Spain confident on vaccination targets despite J&J suspension

FILE PHOTO: eople queue to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a new mass vaccination centre in WiZink sports arena in Madrid, Spain, April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain is confident it can maintain its current vaccination targets despite a U.S. suspension of the Johnson & Johnson shot and delays to its European rollout over clotting concerns, Industry Minister Reyes Maroto said on Wednesday.

"Stopping the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine creates uncertainty but we are confident the volume of vaccines Spain is due to receive allows us to be optimistic about hitting our objectives," Reyes told a conference.

U.S. federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended suspending use of the vaccine after six women under 50 developed rare blood clots.

Shortly afterward J&J announced it would push back the European deployment of the shot, which it began delivering to European Union members on Monday.

Spain had been due to receive an initial delivery of 300,000 doses of the single-shot drug on Wednesday, which it planned to use for people aged 70-79 years old.

Speaking in parliament, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated national targets to vaccinate half the population by the end of July and 70% by the end of summer.

Still, analytics company Airfinity forecast the delay could hold up a Europe-wide target to inoculate 75% of the population by two months, dealing a fresh blow to the regional vaccination campaign, which had begun to accelerate after a sluggish start.

The European Medicines Agency was expected to issue new guidance on the drug later on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, Nathan Allen, editing by Andrei Khalip)

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