Johnson & Johnsons coronavirus vaccine won clearance from the European Unions drugs regulator, paving the way for the first single-injection shot to help bolster the regions sluggish vaccination campaign.

The

European Medicines Agency recommended that the EU approve the vaccine for people 18 and above in a statement Thursday. The European Commission must now rubber-stamp the decision before the product can be distributed.

The newcomer could help the bloc ramp up its immunization effort because it can be stored in a refrigerator for long periods — unlike two of the other three vaccines available in the EU — and the logistics of injecting a single dose are far simpler. The shot protected all volunteers in clinical trials against hospitalization and death from Covid-19.

The EU has

purchased 200 million doses of the vaccine, with an option for 200 million more. The Commission had said previously deliveries were expected to begin in early April, but officials are now

bracing for delays, two people with knowledge of the process said earlier this week. At a meeting of EU ambassadors Wednesday,

diplomats were told J&J has yet to provide a delivery schedule for the shot.

The vaccine is the fourth to be cleared in the region after those made by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford,

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, and

Moderna Inc.

More Than 326 Million Shots Given: Covid-19 Tracker

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