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Europe Scrambles As J&J Vaccine Delay Deals Another Blow

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Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP
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The head of the European Union's executive arm has announced plans for a major contract extension for COVID-19 vaccines with Pfizer.

European nations are scrambling in the wake of Johnson & Johnson's delay of the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccines amid reports of very rare blood clots.

Some leaders opted for caution Wednesday after American health officials paused the vaccine's use while they study the clots in a handful of people.

Experts agree COVID-19 poses a much larger risk of death and hospitalization than the potential threat of atypical clots.

Italy, Croatia and Denmark put their lotsof J&J vaccine in storage while waiting for guidance from European health officials. Spain and Portugal were left empty-handed. But Poland said that it will go ahead and administer the first batch of 120,000 doses that had arrived.

South Africa also suspended giving Johnson & Johnson vaccine shots as a “precautionary measure.”

Meantime, the head of the European Union's executive arm has announced plans for a major contract extension for COVID-19 vaccines with Pfizer.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the EU will start negotiating to buy 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through 2023.

Pfizer has been a mainstay of the EU’s vaccination drive so far.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin said he got his second COVID-19 vaccine shot, three weeks after getting the first dose. The shot was not in public, and the Kremlin wouldn’t reveal which of the three vaccines approved for use in Russia was used.