The Morrison government has decided against including Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus jab in Australia’s vaccine rollout.
The US has so far administered almost 6.5 million doses of the pharmaceutical company’s COVID-19 vaccine, and millions of doses are being shipped to Europe.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt has now confirmed Australia will not follow suit.
It comes as federal government officials face a swathe of criticism over the pace of the rollout and concerns about the safety of the country’s mainstay AstraZeneca vaccine.
Because the Johnson & Johnson option only requires patients to be administered one dose, it had the potential to ensure more Australians were vaccinated sooner.
In a statement to the ABC, the spokesperson for Mr Hunt revealed Australia will not buy any doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine because it is “the same type of vaccine as the AstraZeneca vaccine”.
Amid growing evidence of blood clot risks, the AstraZeneca vaccine is no longer the preferred jab for those under 50.
The spokesperson for Mr Hunt said Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is based on similar technology to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
For that reason alone, “the government does not intend to purchase any further adenovirus vaccines at this time,” the statement on Tuesday morning (Australian time) read.
On Sunday, it was revealed four people in the US who received the jab had developed rare blood clots, propelling the European Medicines Agency to investigate the cases.
Johnson & Johnson said it was working with regulators to assess the data and provide relevant information.
“At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,” the company said in a statement to the ABC.
The federal government’s decision to not pursue the vaccine comes after Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy told reporters on Friday the government was “still exploring with Johnson & Johnson”.
Scott Morrison took to Facebook on Tuesday to reassure Australians the government’s vaccination program is safe and rolling out in a timeframe comparable to other countries.
The government says 40 million doses of the imported Pfizer vaccine should be available by the end of the year, on top of local supply of the AstraZeneca version.