The UK Medicines Agency on Friday approved the use of the single-dose shots manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, the fourth coronavirus vaccine approved in the country.
Approval comes amid growing concerns about the spread of a coronavirus variant, first discovered in India, in the UK. The number of cases of the variant, known as B.1.617.2, has doubled within a week, according to public figures, and nearly 7,000 cases had been discovered by Thursday.
“This fourth approved vaccine adds to our arsenal,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Twitter. “If you’re authorized, get your jab.” The UK has also approved the use of the vaccines manufactured by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech.
More than 58 percent of the UK population have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 36 percent have been fully vaccinated. The UK opened vaccination to adults 30 and older this week, but most of the vaccination campaign’s efforts in the past few weeks have focused on second injections.
According to the British regulator, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85 percent effective against serious illnesses caused by Covid-19.
The UK approval comes a day after Mexico issues emergency approval to the same vaccine.
The Mexican government previously approved AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac and CanSino.
In other news around the world:
The Regional government of Madrid announced on Friday that it would use AstraZeneca’s second dose vaccine for people under the age of 60, contrary to a recommendation by the Spanish central government to switch to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for the second vaccine. While European Union regulators have stated that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is safe, it has continued to create tensions in Spain, one of the countries that briefly suspended its use in March after reports of blood clots.
The Indian The government is in talks with Pfizer to receive 50 million doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine starting this summer, but is still considering the drugmaker’s request for compensation for costs related to serious side effects, officials said.
Hong Kong No new coronavirus cases were recorded on Thursday for the first time in seven months, a promising sign of Chinese territory’s efforts to contain a wave of infections that began in November. The city hasn’t recorded more than 15 daily cases for more than a month, adding to the urge for authorities to relax social distancing measures.
Vietnam ordered religious institutions to suspend large gatherings after a cluster of infections was linked to a Protestant community in Ho Chi Minh City, part of a nationwide surge in cases. Of the more than 6,300 total cases recorded in the Southeast Asian nation since the pandemic began, half occurred in the past month, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.