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Germany to receive first doses of J&J vaccine next month

Germany to receive first doses of J&J vaccine next month
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German officials on Saturday announced that the country will begin distributing its first doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine next month following the country’s delayed rollout and reports of distribution issues across Europe. 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an online event Saturday that the country is set to receive a shipment of about 275,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson inoculation the week of April 12, Reuters reported

“It will only be a small delivery at first,” Spahn admitted, adding, “because we have been waiting a long time for the first delivery from J&J - we will get the first deliveries of the vaccine in mid-April, and it will then be ramped up to millions of doses, as is the case with all deliveries.”

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The announcement comes after the European union earlier this month officially cleared the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use for people 18 years and older, making it the fourth shot to be approved by the EU following the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna. 

According to Reuters, Germany expects to receive about 15 million doses from the other three suppliers in addition to the initial small amount of doses from Johnson & Johnson. 

The vaccine distribution plans are a welcomed update for the country after The Associated Press reported this week that just about 9.5 percent of Germany's population had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, compared to more than 50 percent of the United Kingdom’s population. 

Distribution was interrupted this month as Germany and several other European countries temporarily halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, due to concerns that the inoculation was linked to blood clots. 

However, Germany has since resumed use of the AstraZeneca shot after the EU’s European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that while it could not completely rule out the possibility of blood clots, the vaccine was overall safe and effective to use, and that the potential costs of the vaccine were far outweighed by the benefits of protecting people from COVID-19. 

The distribution delays have come as Germany also faces a new wave of coronavirus infections, with the AP this week reporting 108 weekly cases for every 100,000 residents. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday abandoned plans for a five-day shutdown that would have gone through Easter after she faced pushback from citizens. 

However, Merkel argued that without the Easter shutdown, the plan she and the country’s 16 state governors had come up with still offered a "framework" to help combat the new wave of coronavirus infections.