Bahrain becomes 1st country to grant emergency use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahrain has become the first nation to authorize Johnson & Johnson’s new single-dose coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Thursday, the government announces, just a day after US regulators concluded the shot offers strong protection against severe COVID-19.

The island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia says it will dole out J&J’s shot to the most vulnerable people, including older adults and those with chronic conditions, without specifying when. It is also unclear when doses will be delivered to the country, which already offers vaccines by state-backed Chinese firm Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNtech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V to its roughly 2 million residents.

The move makes Bahrain’s health regulatory authority the first in the world to authorize the J&J vaccine for general use. In addition to the US, European regulators and the World Health Organization also are considering J&J’s vaccine. Worldwide, the company aims to produce around a billion doses by the end of the year.

Meriam Adhbi al-Jalahma, chief of Bahrain’s regulatory body, said authorities had conducted “an in-depth study” on “all documents submitted by the company, which included the results of the clinical trials.”

The vaccine “provides a great protection against serious infection with COVID-19,” the statement adds.