FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021, file photo, a health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the…
FILE - A health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being made available to residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. California, March 11, 2021.

Federal health officials in the United States are recommending an immediate pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.   

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement early Tuesday announcing the agencies are investigating six instances of “a rare and severe blood clot” occurring in women between 18 and 48 years old within six to 13 days after receiving the one-dose vaccine.  The statement noted that more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the country. 

The New York Times is reporting that one woman has died and another woman in the western state of Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.   

The CDC says it will hold an emergency meeting of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to “to further review these cases and assess their potential significance.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the second one linked to potential blood clots. Several nations have issued new guidelines over the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after the European Union’s medical regulator announced a link between the vaccine and rare, possibly fatal blood clots.   

New surge in India

Meanwhile, a new single-day record of COVID-19 cases has pushed India into second place behind the United States for the world’s most confirmed coronavirus infections. 

The South Asian nation’s 168,912 new COVID-19 cases posted on Monday gives India 13,527,717 total cases, compared to Brazil’s 13,517,808 total cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

People crowd along a busy road in Mumbai on April 12, 2021, as India overtook Brazil as the country with the second-highest…
India Surpasses Brazil for World’s Second-Most COVID-19 Cases
South Asian nation dealing with acute shortage of coronavirus vaccines and potential superspreader event at Hindu religious pilgrimages at Ganges River

The new surge coincides with an acute shortage of vaccines in some Indian states, along with the annual Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival, at the Ganges River, where millions of Hindu devotees bathe to seek absolution, raising fears it could evolve into a superspreader event.   

India is in fourth place in total coronavirus fatalities with 170,179, including 904 deaths posted on Monday.  The United States leads in that category with 562,521, followed by Brazil with 354,617 deaths and Mexico with 209,702. 

India has approved the use of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.  

FILE - World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva.

The World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday blamed   “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures and their application” for seven consecutive weeks of rising COVID-19 infections and four consecutive weeks of increasing numbers of deaths, after starting the year with six weeks of declining numbers. 

During a briefing Monday from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Tedros said while vaccines are a vital and powerful tool in fighting the pandemic, the standard mitigation efforts of social distancing, hygiene, masks and continued testing and tracking continue to be effective means of saving lives.  

Britain reopens

In a relatively positive development, Britain announced that it is ahead of schedule of offering a first shot of COVID-19 vaccine to its older citizens on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vaccinating all people 50 years old and older by the self-imposed deadline of April 15 means “more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against COVID-19.”  

People drink in the Soho area of London, on April 12, 2021, as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country in step two of the government's roadmap out of England's third national lockdown.

The prime minister’s triumphant statement capped the end of a three-month strict lockdown imposed across Britain in response to a wave of infections triggered by a more transmissible strain of the virus, which was discovered late last year in the southeastern county of Kent.

Thousands of gyms, hair salons, retail shops and zoos reopened their doors across England, along with bars and restaurants, which are limited to just outdoor service.   Similar restrictions remain in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have their own timetables for reopening. 

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