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Belgium delays start of Johnson & Johnson vaccination

FILE PHOTO: Vials and medical syringe are seen in front of J&J logo in this illustration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium delayed beyond Friday the start of administering Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines at the company’s request, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) expects to issue a recommendation on J&J next week after the U.S. drugmaker delayed its COVID-19 shot and Denmark was dropping a similar vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc over the risk of blood clotting.

Belgium said it received the first 36,000 J&J shots earlier this week and was expecting 62,400 more this month, with deliveries for May and June still to be decided. It said the Wednesday decision would not significantly affect the country’s inoculation plan in the short-term.

Almost two million people have received a first dose of a vaccine so far in Belgium, which has a population of some 11 million.

Some 100 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the 27-nation European Union, of which Belgium is a member, and the bloc is now increasing supplies from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE to boost its choppy vaccine rollout.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Richard Chang)

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