Slovenia suspends Johnson & Johnson vaccine after young woman’s death

Slovenia will stop administering Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine while it investigates the death of a 20-year-old woman which could have been related to the jab, the country’s health minister has said.

A young woman who was inoculated with the J&J jab two weeks ago died on Tuesday after developing “blood clots and bleeding in the brain at the same time,” according to medics.

The tragic news prompted the Slovenian authorities to temporarily suspend the use of the Janssen vaccine, Health Minister Janez Poklukar announced during a press conference on Wednesday.

The J&J shots will remain frozen until the probe into the possible link between the woman’s death and the jab is completed, he added.

Some 120,000 people in Slovenia have already been injected with the vaccine, and this is the second case of adverse effects following inoculation, Poklukar said. He insisted, however, that “the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential complications from it.” 

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The single-dose J&J jab has been in high demand in the country since mid-September, after the Slovenian government introduced mandatory Covid-19 passes for almost all shops, services, and workplaces amid a rapid surge in infections. Slovenia was previously one of the worst-hit nations in Europe, with the number of cases per 100,000 people exceeding 500.

Earlier this week, Slovenian authorities greenlit the purchase of an additional 100,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine from Hungary. Poklukar said he currently couldn’t comment on the fate of this shipment, adding that any decision on it will be made once the probe into the woman’s death is concluded.

So far, around 48% of Slovenia’s population of two million people has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, with Janssen being one of several jabs approved in the country. 

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The Janssen jab had previously faced temporary suspensions in the EU, as well as in the US and South Africa, over its adverse effects, including rare cases of blood clots.

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