Covid-19: Italy approves Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine

Italy authorises Johnson & Johnson single-dose coronavirus vaccine hailed by the EU as "safe and effective." 

Italy's medicines agency (AIFA) gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine on 12 March, the day after it was authorised for use by the European Commission (EC).

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine becomes the fourth to be licensed by the EU and Italy as the European bloc battles to curb the coronavirus pandemic amid a stalled vaccination drive.

This latest authorisation follows a "positive scientific recommendation" based on a thorough assessment of the "safety, effectiveness and quality" of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EC president Ursula von der Leyen said the new vaccine "only requires a single dose, which takes us another step closer to achieving our collective goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the adult population by the end of summer."

The vaccine - developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson - has been approved for all age groups over 18 years.

The EU has ordered 200 million doses, with Italy set to receive around 27 million doses, according to Jannsen Italia chief Massimo Scaccabarozzi who spoke on Italian television yesterday.

The three approved vaccines already in use in Italy and across Europe are Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, the latter of which has been making headlines over concerns about its possible adverse side effects including blood-clotting.

Italy issued a nationwide withdrawl of a particular batch as a "precautionary measure" while it investigates the suspicious deaths of two men in Sicily who were recently inoculated.

However it continues to use other AstraZeneca batches and AIFA has stressed that at present no link has been established between the vaccine and subsequent adverse reactions.

"There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine," stated the EMA, adding that the "vaccine's benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing."

Italy's approval of the J&J vaccine follows pledges by premier Mario Draghi to accelerate the nation's sluggish vaccination campaign and comes as much of the country will be placed under lockdown from 15 March amid a "new wave" of covid-19.

For official information relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy see health ministry website.