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Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 23:21
EU finds possible link between J&J vaccine and blood clots
By Agencies
Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 23:21 By Agencies

This Dec 2, 2020 file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the company in the United States. (PHOTO / JOHNSON & JOHNSON VIA AP)

BOGOTA / BUENOS AIRES / GENEVA / NAIROBI / OTTAWA / LONDON / MEXICO CITY / BERLIN / KINSHASA / PARIS / MILAN / WASHINGTON / VIENNA / TUNIS / ALBANIA / QUITO / HAVANA / RABAT / DUBLIN / SOFIA / MOSCOW / CAIRO / BRUSSELS / AMSTERDAM - Europe’s drug regulator has found a possible link between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and rare blood clotting issues in adults who received doses in the United States, but backed its overall benefits against any risks.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Tuesday its safety committee had concluded that a warning about unusual blood clots with low platelets must be added to the vaccine’s labels, just as it has also required of rival vaccine maker AstraZeneca.

One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin

European Medicines Agency

The findings are a blow to the European Union, which is battling major hurdles to its immunisation campaign after several nations suspended or limited the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine over possible blood clots.

The EMA found that all instances of clotting had occurred in adults under 60 years, mostly women, within three weeks of vaccination with J&J’s single shot.

It said all available evidence, including eight US reports of cases, had formed part of its assessment.

The watchdog also said that most clots had occurred in the brain and abdomen, as was the case with AstraZeneca’s shot, Vaxzevria, which is also being studied for similar blood clotting problems.

"One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin," the EMA said.

The cases were reported out of more than 7 million doses administered in the United States as of April 13, the EMA said.


Lockdown measures in the Netherlands are expected to be eased from next week as pressure to reopen society mounts despite still-high coronavirus infection rates, Dutch broadcasters reported on Tuesday.

A nationwide nighttime curfew that has been in place for three months will be lifted on April 28, broadcasters NOS and RTL said, citing government sources, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve small groups on outdoor terraces between noon and 6 PM.

Universities and colleges will also gradually reopen, while stores will be allowed to admit more customers.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is set to announce the measures at a news conference planned for Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, around 4.5 million vaccinations are estimated to have been given in the country of 17 million, with around 750,000 more injections expected this week.


Hungary, the country that currently still has the world’s highest death rate from Covid-19, reported data that showed the virus has peaked, according to the country’s chief medical officer.

Hungary reported 1,645 new infections on Tuesday, the lowest level in almost two months. The number of patients being treated in hospitals has dropped by a third from the end of March and those on ventilators fell below 1,000 for the first time since mid-March, according to the latest data.

“Our pandemic data are improving, we’re seeing slight drops after reaching a plateau,” Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller said at a briefing.

The improvement is slow as the more aggressive Covid-19 variant first detected in the U.K., which is prevalent in Hungary, spreads rapidly and causes more severe symptoms that are difficult to treat, Muller said.

Hungary has recorded an average 171.2 deaths per million people in the seven days through April 19. While that’s still by far the worst globally, according to a Bloomberg compilation of data, it’s down 6% from the previous seven-day period, the biggest drop in almost two weeks.


Chinese vaccine producer Sinovac has provided a total of 260 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world. More than 60 percent of these were supplied abroad, said Yin Weidong, chairman and CEO of Sinovac, at a sub-forum of Boao Forum for Asia annual conference on Tuesday.

Sinovac has worked with foreign enterprises on vaccine research and development and has transferred its technology to co-production globally. The company especially passed on its production technology to countries that lack vaccine research capacity, Yin said.

Sinovac now produces more than six million vaccine doses per day and has been licensed for emergency use in nearly 40 countries globally, he added.


Everyone in United States aged 16 years and above is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.

People aged 16 years and above who have underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19, should be among those offered the vaccine first, according to the US health agency's latest recommendations.

Following the update, Chicago said COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to everyone aged 16 and older, the last area in the US state of Illinois to do so.

Separately, the US is reviewing reports of a handful of potential cases of severe side effects among people who received Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine in addition to those that led to a pause in its use, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

The State Department has delivered COVID-19 vaccines to all of its eligible workforce deployed abroad as of Sunday and is expecting its entire workforce to have been fully vaccinated by mid-May, State Department officials said.

Meanwhile, the department said it will boost its "Do Not Travel" guidance to about 80 percent of countries worldwide, citing "unprecedented risk to travelers" from the pandemic.

The State Department already listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Level 4: Do Not Travel," including places like Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania. Getting to 80 percent would imply adding nearly 130 countries.

In another development, a new variant of COVID-19, BV-1, was found by scientists at the US Texas A&M University, media reported Monday.

According to the scientists, BV-1 is related to the UK variant and has a "potentially concerning genetic make-up" that indicates it might not respond to antibodies.


While the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to expand worldwide vaccine production, only one percent of the 100 million doses administered last week went to lowest-income countries, WHO officials said.

Close to "99 million doses of vaccines last week went into high- and upper-middle-income and some low- and middle-income countries, but only one percent of that went to the lowest-income countries," said Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO director-general on organizational change, at a press conference.

The world has the means to bring the global COVID-19 pandemic under control in the coming months, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, urging a fair and equitable sharing of global resources.

Aylward said it will "take weeks and months" to increase vaccine supplies and "in the meantime, we've got to take some urgent and important decisions about how we are going to use the vaccines that exist today."

A man receives a COVID-19 shot in Tripoli, Libya, on April 17, 2021. (HAMZA TURKIA / XINHUA)

New COVID-19 infections worldwide have increased for the eighth week running, with a record 5.2 million cases reported last week and an alarming growth rate in young people, the WHO said Monday.

Deaths also rose for the fifth straight week, pushing the global death toll to over three million, Tedros said.

READ MORE: COVID-19 claims 3 million lives as burden shifts to poorer nations

The pandemic has been gathering pace recently, according to WHO's numbers. "It took nine months to reach one million deaths; four months to reach two million, and three months to reach three million," the WHO chief said.

Meanwhile, infections and hospitalizations among people aged 25 to 59 are increasing at an alarming rate, he said, possibly as a result of highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 142 million while the global death toll topped 3.02 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.


The Albanian government announced on Monday a decision to impose a 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers entering the country from Greece and North Macedonia.

The new measure will enter into force starting from Tuesday and last until May 3, according to Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection Mira Rakacolli, who is also the head of the Technical Committee of Experts on coronavirus situation.

Meanwhile, the committee decided to allow students studying in the first and second year in high school, who are now attending online classes, to return to in-classroom learning.

The committee also decided to keep in force the current nighttime curfew hours from 10 pm to 6 am local time, and university classes will remain online.

The health ministry on Monday reported 100 new cases, taking the tally to 129,694, along with 102,171 recoveries and 2,347 fatalities.


Argentina reported on Monday 20,461 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the tally to 2,714,475 cases, the health ministry said.

Another 248 deaths were also reported, raising the toll to 59,476, the ministry said.

Some 4,304 patients remained hospitalized in intensive care units, while the bed occupancy rate nationwide was 65.8 percent, according to the ministry.

President Alberto Fernandez announced a monthly bonus of 6,500 pesos (about US$70) for over 740,000 health workers for three months.

Minister of Health Carla Vizzotti emphasized that there are still beds available for seriously ill COVID-19 patients, but admitted that health personnel "are exhausted".


Brazil recorded 30,624 new cases of coronavirus and 1,347 additional COVID-19 deaths, the health ministry said on Monday.

READ MORE: Virus is deadlier in Brazil than India and no one knows why


Bulgaria's COVID-19 death toll has risen to 15,412 after 217 more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, official data showed on Tuesday.

It is the second-highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic in the country.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed infections rose by 2,434 to 388,815, according to the country's COVID-19 information portal.

The total number of recoveries increased 4,244 to 310,922.

Another 7,044 vaccine doses were administered in Bulgaria in the past 24 hours, taking the total number doses administered so far to 645,486.


Ontario, Canada's most populous province, reported 4,447 new COVID-19 cases Monday morning, up from 4,250 reported on Sunday.

The new cases brought the cumulative total to 421,442 cases in the province, including 7,735 deaths and 370,844 recoveries.

There are 2,202 people with COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 755 are being treated for COVID-related critical illnesses in intensive care units. A total of 516 patients require a ventilator to breathe. All three figures are new pandemic highs for Ontario.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province expects to face a delay in the supply of AstraZeneca Plc COVID-19 vaccine.

"The Premier was notified today by our officials to be prepared for delays to two shipments of AstraZeneca expected from the federal government later this month and next," reads a statement from Ford's office.

As of Monday noon, Canada had reported a cumulative total of 1,127,037 cases, including 23,656 deaths, according to CTV. 


Chile secured deals for third doses of COIVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac and Pfizer in the event they are needed in upcoming months, according to a government official.

An additional seven million Sinovac shots and five million from Pfizer would arrive by year’s end if health authorities deem them necessary, Vice-Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yanez said in an interview. Officials also want to be ready in the event people under 18 years of age are cleared for the shot, he said.

“The use of a third dose is a health decision that’s still under review,” said Yanez, who leads the government’s negotiations with vaccine providers around the world. “But, from the perspective of negotiations and contracts, that additional dose would be available this year.”

Chile's health ministry on Monday reported 6,643 new COVID-19 infections and another 100 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the tally to 1,131,340 and the toll to 25,277.


Colombia will extend measures such as nightly curfews and limits on who can enter shops and other businesses by two weeks as part of efforts to curb a third wave of coronavirus, the government said on Monday.

Nightly curfews based on intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rates will run until May 3, according to a government document signed by Health Minister Fernando Ruiz and Interior Minister Daniel Palacios.

Cities with an ICU occupancy of above 85 percent will have a curfew from 6 pm through 5 am, while those with between 80 percent and 85 percent capacity will have curfews beginning at 8 pm.

In capital city Bogota, total ICU occupancy sits at 84.2 percent, according to local authorities. ICU occupancy rates in Colombia's second and third cities, Medellin and Cali, sit at 98 percent and 91.4 percent, respectively.

The capital will also maintain a three-day quarantine planned for this weekend, Mayor of Bogota Claudia Lopez said in a press conference.

Colombia has reported more than 2.66 million coronavirus cases, as well as 68,748 deaths, according to the health ministry. So far, more than 3.7 million vaccine doses have been administered.


The Democratic Republic of Congo launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday after a more than one-month delay because of concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine's safety.

Congo received 1.7 million doses from the COVAX Facility on March 2, but delayed the rollout after several European countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca shot in response to reports of rare blood clots.

The health minister, health workers, diplomats and members of other priority groups were the first to be vaccinated in the capital Kinshasa on Monday, COVAX said in a statement.

Vaccinations would continue in five other provinces with high case rates, including the mining hubs of Lualaba and Haut-Katanga, it said.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo told Reuters he was confident that all 1.7 million doses could be administered in time. He said Congo would also receive more than 4 million additional doses in the coming weeks.

Congo has reported 28,956 infections and 745 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.


Cuba’s COVID-19 daily tally surpassed 1,000 for the fifth consecutive day on Monday, as 1,060 new cases were reported, bringing the cumulative caseload to 94,571, the Public Health Ministry said.

The death toll rose by six to 531, the ministry said.

Havana continues to be the epicenter of the outbreak on the island, with 568 infections reported in the last day, the ministry's national director of hygiene and epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said during his daily report.


Ecuador reported 17 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 360,563, the Ministry of Public Health said on Monday.

The death toll remained at 12,720 as there were no newly reported deaths, the ministry said.

Another 4,983 deaths are considered to be COVID-19 related, but not verified, according to the ministry.

The province of Pichincha, the hardest hit by the pandemic in the country, registered the most new infections in the last day with 16 cases, bringing the total in the province to 125,744, along with 2,677 deaths.


Egypt has agreed to purchase 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm and expects to receive a batch of 500,000 shots this month, its health ministry said on Tuesday.

The agreement boosts vaccination efforts in Egypt, which has a population of 100 million and has so far received a total of just over 1.5 million doses of Sinopharm and of the AstraZeneca shot.

Earlier this month, Egypt announced it was preparing to produce up to 80 million doses of the vaccine produced by China's Sinovac.


The European Union (EU) will ship over half a million COVID-19 shots to the Western Balkans by August using for the first time in the region a vaccine-sharing mechanism meant to help its poorer neighbors.

The bloc plans to funnel 651,000 doses of BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccines from early May to Bosnia, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

Serbia already has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, and briefly shared some of its shots with neighbors. Despite this help, the other five Balkan countries expected to receive EU doses have struggled to inoculate people. In Bosnia the shortage of vaccines has led to street protests.

The vaccines shared by the EU will be purchased with EU funds given to the Balkan countries.

Doses will be distributed according to which countries need them most, Schallenberg said. Bosnia will get the biggest share with 214,000 doses, followed by Albania with 145,000 and North Macedonia with 119,000. Serbia is last with 36,000.

People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus walk past a closed restaurant with teddy bears inside, in Paris, France, April 19, 2021. (LEWIS JOLY / AP)


The French government will ease COVID-19 restrictions according to "the epidemic situation of each territory," Health Minister Olivier Veran said Tuesday.

In an interview with the regional newspaper Le Telegramme, Veran said the government is favoring a region-by-region approach. "When we consider unwinding a certain number of restrictions, we must look at the epidemic situation in each territory, the hospital situation and the level of hospital saturation in France."

France will start a gradual reopening by mid-May, the minister said, citing signs of "a decrease in the epidemic," with the country's average daily COVID-19 infections now at 33,000 compared with over 40,000 in late March.

Veran, however, warned that the virus is still circulating at a high level. "We must continue our efforts," he said.

France also reported 449 new COVID-19 deaths in hospitals, up from 140 on Sunday, taking the cumulative toll to 101,183 since the start of the pandemic.

There were 6,696 new cases on Monday, against 29,344 on Sunday, taking the total to 5.29 million. This was the lowest number of new cases reported since March 15. There are usually fewer new cases reported on Mondays because less testing is carried out over the weekend.


The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 9,609 to 3,163,308, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. 

The reported death toll rose by 297 to 80,303, the tally showed.


Greece has suspended a planned rollout of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccinations until Europe's drug regulator issues its view, the head of the country's vaccination committee, Maria Theodoridou, said on Monday.

Greece had been expected to start Johnson & Johnson vaccinations on Monday before questions emerged over reports of very rare blood clotting disorders associated with the use of the vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to hold a press briefing on its review of the issue on April 20 at 1500 GMT.


The head of global airline industry body IATA has hit out at the high cost of PCR testing, accusing some companies of profiteering from the COVID-19 tests, and calling for the industry to challenge whether PCR tests are necessary.

"We're clearly seeing evidence of profiteering by people who have jumped on the testing bandwagon" Willie Walsh, IATA's new director general, said at an industry conference on Tuesday.

"The cost of testing should be significantly lower than it is. I think we've got to challenge whether PCR testing is necessary," he said.

"We can’t have a situation where only the wealthy are able to travel. That would be a shame and a disgrace and everyone in the industry should be pushing back," Walsh said.

He said that lateral flow and rapid antigen tests are "just as effective" in the context where there are other measures in place to help manage risk.


Ireland has registered its first three cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, a senior health official said on Monday.

Cillian De Gascun, the head of Ireland's national virus laboratory, told journalists at least two of the cases were related to travel.

He said the variant was still classified as a "variant of interest" rather than a "variant of concern."


Italy reported 316 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday against 251 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 8,864 from 12,694.

Italy has registered 117,243 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has reported 3.88 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 23,742 on Monday, slightly up from 23,648 a day earlier.

There were 141 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 163 on Sunday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 3,244 from a previous 3,311.


Kenya is in advanced negotiations to buy Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines for delivery later this year, the Star newspaper reported, citing Willis Akhwale, head of the country’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Taskforce.

More than 700,000 Kenyans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as a growing number of citizens express confidence in the jab to protect them from severe illness, a senior government official said Monday.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary for Health, said a total of 702,170 persons had been inoculated as of Monday, 397,539 of whom were senior citizens aged 58 years and above, 141,146 were health workers, 106,147 were teachers and 57,338 were security officers.

He said Nairobi had the highest number of vaccinated individuals while inoculations in the rural counties had gained steam amid the establishment of robust cold chain infrastructure and hiring of adequate personnel.

Kenya's COVID-19 caseload hit 151,894 Monday after 241 new infections were reported. The death toll rose by 20 to 2,501 while the total recoveries stood at 102,278.

ALSO READ: Russia says Sputnik V shows 97.6% efficacy

A student wearing a face mask and a face shield washes his hands before heading for his first day of class at the Valentin Gomez Farias Indigenous Primary School in Montebello, Hecelchakan, Campeche state, Mexico, April 19, 2021. (MARTIN ZETINA / AP)


Mexico's health ministry on Monday reported 1,308 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 127 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,306,910 infections and 212,466 deaths.


Morocco's COVID-19 tally rose to 505,949 on Monday as 138 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Health, the death toll rose by seven to 8,952, and 435 people were still in intensive care units.

The total number of recoveries increased by 290 to 492,100, according to the statement.

So far, 4,672,326 people have received one shot of the vaccine, and 4,188,336 people have also received the second dose.


Portugal on Monday moved on to the third stage of the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, with the gradual reopening of services and other activities in municipalities with a relatively low COVID-19 incidence rate.

In most of the country, schools resumed in-person education and stores, shopping centers and restaurants reopened with occupancy restrictions and in-store health and safety measures.

In the affected municipalities, sports and physical activities for groups of up to six people are now also allowed. Weddings and religious services are also allowed, but limited to 25 percent of the venue's total capacity.

Portugal's border with Spain remains closed. However, air services with Brazil and the United Kingdom resumed for essential reasons.

This photo captures shoppers at the Colombo shopping center in Lisbon, Portugal, on April 19, 2021, as shopping centers reopened under the third step of a gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)


Russia logged 8,164 coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily increase since Sept 28, bringing the nationwide count to 4,718,854, the country's monitoring and response center said Tuesday. In the period, 9,631 patients have recovered from the disease, raising the number of recoveries to 4,343,229, while the COVID-19 death toll increased by 379 to 106,307.

South Africa

The South African government’s compensation fund to cover potential injuries from COVID-19 vaccines could cost around 250 million rand (US$17.5 million) in the first year, the health minister said in response to questions in parliament.

The African country hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of infections and deaths told vaccine manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer it would set up the fund during negotiations to buy shots.

Mkhize said the potential cost was based on an estimate of between 800 and 2,000 successful claims and included the administrative costs of the fund. He said a committee of experts would develop a vaccine injury table to assess compensation applications.

Meanwhile, deliveries of Pfizer vaccine to South Africa were delayed by demands from the US drugmaker that it determine the guarantees needed to indemnify the company from any negative effects from the shots.

The condition was resisted by the government and Pfizer eventually backed down, agreeing to supply 30 million doses of the vaccine co-developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

“This condition posed a potential risk to our assets and fiscus,” Finance Minister Zweli Mkhize said in an April 14 briefing document submitted to parliament’s health committee and reviewed by Bloomberg. “Pfizer finally conceded to removing this problematic term.”


Switzerland expanded its capacity to inoculate people against COVID-19 on Monday, opening mass vaccination centers in cities including Geneva and Lausanne.

The number of cases has continued to steadily rise in the Alpine country over the past weeks. It increased by 4,905 since Friday, according to figures published on Monday, taking the total to 637,304, along with 16 additional deaths.

A large vaccination center opened at Palexpo in Geneva, a convention centre that normally hosts the annual International Motor Show, canceled this year and last due to the pandemic. 

"The center opens today with a capacity of 2,000 vaccinations per day and as soon as we're able to increase that, it can quickly go to 3,000 or 4,000 shots per day, that is huge," cantonal doctor Nathalie Vernaz told Reuters.

In Lausanne, the largest center in the canton of Vaud opened at Palais de Beaulieu, which aims to vaccinate 14,000 people a week, a statement said.


Tunisia’s health ministry on Monday reported 1,571 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 287,061.

The death toll rose by 42 to 9,825, the ministry said in a statement.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the North African country reached 2,426, including 482 in intensive care units, while the total number of recoveries reached 236,593, it added.

Minister of Health Faouzi Mehdi denied reports about a possible general lockdown in the country to curb the rapid spread of the virus, according to the local private radio network Mosaique FM.


The UK government added India to its travel ban list, amid soaring coronavirus cases in the country and the emergence of a new variant scientists fear could prove partly resistant to vaccines.

Under the new rules coming into force at 4 am UK time on Friday, anyone who is not a British or Irish national or has UK residence rights will be refused entry to Britain if they have been in India in the last 10 days.

Meanwhile, Britain has seen some community transmission of the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, though he said around two-thirds of cases were related to international travel.

The UK reported Monday 2,963 new cases and four more deaths, the lowest daily toll since early September last year, official data showed.

The new figures brought the tally to 4,390,783 and the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test to 127,274.

Nearly 33 million people in the UK have been given the first jab of a coronavirus vaccine, while the number of people who are fully vaccinated exceeded 10 million.


Swedes under 65 vaccinated with one shot of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be given a different vaccine for the second dose, the Swedish Health Agency said on Tuesday.

Sweden paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March after reports of rare but serious blood clots among people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot. Sweden later resumed use but only for people aged 65 or above.

"People under the age of 65 who have already received a dose of Vaxzevria should instead be offered a second dose of so-called mRNA vaccine, such as PfizerBiontech or Moderna," the Health Agency said in a statement.


Belarus reported 888 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking its total to 345,998, according to the country's health ministry.

There were 742 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 336,227, the ministry said.

So far, a total of 2,443 people have died of the disease in the country, including ten over the past 24 hours, it said.

As of Tuesday, 5,685,902 tests for the virus have been conducted across the country, including 9,307 over the past 24 hours, according to official figures.

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