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Canada talking to Johnson & Johnson about COVID-19 vaccine setback as PM frets over variants

Canada talking to Johnson & Johnson about COVID-19 vaccine setback as PM frets over variants

A nurse from Humber River Hospital administers the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at St Fidelis Parish in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Mar 17, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Osorio)

OTTAWA: Canada said on Tuesday (Apr 13) it was talking to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) about reports its COVID-19 vaccine might cause rare blood clots, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a surge in dangerous variants could threaten progress made so far.

US federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing the use of the vaccine made by J&J's Janssen unit for at least a few days after six women under 50 given the shot developed clots.

Health Canada, the federal health ministry, said it was working with the manufacturer, the US Food and Drug Administration and other international regulators.

"Health Canada has asked Janssen to provide information on any cases of these rare blood clotting events," it said in a tweet. Canada has approved the vaccine but deliveries are not due to start until the end of April.

The news is the latest potential challenge for an inoculation effort that is already dragging.

Canada is due to import enough doses to ensure every person can receive a shot by the end of June, but the spread of new variants risks overtaking the pace of vaccination.

"More contagious and dangerous variants are spreading and threatening the progress we've made," Trudeau told a briefing, saying the situation was extremely serious as the number of cases jumps and the healthcare system struggles to respond.

Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, reported a single-day high of new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and has closed schools to in-person learning.

Frustration about shutdowns is rising across the country and rioters in Montreal smashed windows in the downtown area over the weekend.

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam said new cases had risen by 33 per cent over the last week. The number of daily cases is now over 8,100, about the same as during the peak of the second wave earlier this year.

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Source: Reuters

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