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Italy gets first batch of Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine

Arrival of J&J vaccine comes as US agencies "call for pause" over blood clotting concerns.

Italy received the country's first Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccines at the Pratica di Mare military air base south of Rome on the afternoon of 13 April, reports news agency ANSA.

The first batch contains 184,000 doses, said Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo who added that 175,000 doses of the AstraZeneca arrived at Pratica di Mare yesterday evening.

Figliuolo said that the two consignments were "part of the 4.2 million doses that will arrive in Italy in the period from 15 to 22 April," reports ANSA.

The arrival in Italy of the single-shot J&J vaccine coincides with its temporary suspension in the US pending an investigation into blood-clotting concerns, according to The New York Times.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended "a pause" in the use of the vaccine, "out of an abundance of caution," after six women developed blood clots after receiving it.

However the FDA stressed that, for the moment, "these adverse events appear to be extremely rare," with the six cases reportedly representing a rate of around one in a million.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, made by Belgian subsidiary Janssen, is the second vaccine after AstraZeneca to become embroiled in a blood clot scare.

Italy announced on 7 April that AstraZeneca would be recommended only for people aged over 60, after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found a "possible link" between the vaccine and "very rare cases" of blood clots.

The EMA reached its conclusion after a review of 62 blood-clotting cases in Europe, 18 of which were fatal. However the regulator continues to maintain that the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks of side-effects.

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