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Prof Luke O’Neill says Johnson & Johnson delay ‘very serious’ but risks from the vaccine are ‘tiny’

Trinity Immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill has said the decision to delay the roll out of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19  vaccine in the EU is “very serious” and the risks associated with the vaccine are “tiny”.

he EU have ordered 200 million doses of the single-dose vaccine which is now being delayed in Europe due to blood clot concerns.

The American vaccine manufacture paused deliveries pending an investigation into six known cases of rare blood clots.

Ireland is due to receive 600,000 doses of  Johnson and Johnson between April and June, with the first shipment to be delivered in Ireland on April 19.

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Prof O’Neill said the delay is “very serious” for Ireland and the EU.

“If this continues and they halt that vaccine it will really hold back our plans in Ireland – we are expecting two million doses of Johnson and Johnson, so it will impact on the vaccination campaign all over Europe.

“It will push out the timelines – the timelines are going to be extended so the key thing now is to get this vaccine back, to check the safety very carefully and reintroduce it,” he said on Euronews’s Good Morning Europe.

Prof O’Neill stressed the risk of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a “tiny risk”.

“We have to reassure people that that’s the case, especially after AstraZeneca – that’s a really safe vaccine,” he said.

“It’s understandable this would create unhappiness, tension – but remind people that these are very safe vaccines”, he added.

Countries such as France and Germany that gave the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first jab are now offering a different vaccine for the second dose.

Prof O’Neill said: “That’s no problem, from an immunology point of views it’s fine to mix vaccines”.

“Very often you get a better response if you switch to a separate vaccine the second time around, so it’s isn’t a big issue.”

He added: “If that wasn’t done in the trial then that’s one tiny issue I guess, but overall, there’s no problem with mixing vaccines.

“I suspect many countries will start to do this now, if you have supply of a separate vaccine then you may well use it as a second shot, there’s no issue with that.”

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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