Norway advised to drop both Oxford/AstraZeneca and J&J from vaccine program

Neither viral vector vaccine is currently being used in the country.

Norway advised to drop both Oxford/AstraZeneca and J&J from vaccine program

Norway’s expert committee on vaccination advised the government on Monday to use neither the Oxford/AstraZeneca nor the Johnson & Johnson jab for its immunization drive. 

The decision is based on the reports of rare blood clots with low platelets but also takes into consideration the stable and low case count in Norway, which makes the supply situation less urgent, wrote the committee in its report.

Separately, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health cited similar evidence Monday in its recommendation that also called for the J&J jab to not be administered. The institute previously recommended against including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

In a statement, the health ministry said that it would review the committee’s report and the Institute of Public Health’s recommendation and use this to help decide which coronavirus vaccines to include.

Neither viral vector vaccine is currently being used in the country, as the J&J vaccine hasn’t started its rollout and the Oxford/AstraZeneca rollout was paused on March 11. 

While both vaccines are “overall effective” against COVID-19, Norway has increased its access to mRNA vaccines, the committee’s report noted. Moreover, it cited the advantage that the first dose of an mRNA vaccine can already deliver a high degree of protection.

As for voluntary usage, the committee was divided in its views, with most believing that due to the current situation in Norway, it would only be justified to offer viral vector vaccines in exceptional cases. 

As for J&J jabs, the Institute of Public Health believes that they’re suitable as an emergency vaccine because they’re delivered as a single dose and can be stored for a longer period of time. “It is important to have a vaccine in emergency storage in case the vaccine supplies of the mRNA vaccines should fail,” it said. 

In related news, Germany removed on Monday its prioritization schedule for J&J, opening it up to all adults. The government has done the same for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.