DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Bahrain became the first country to authorize Johnson & Johnson’s new single-dose coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Thursday, the government said, just a day after regulators Americans concluded that the shot offered strong protection against severe COVID -19.

The island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia has said it will distribute the J&J shot to the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, without specifying when. It was also not known when the doses would be delivered to the country, which already offers vaccines by the Chinese state-backed company Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNtech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V to its 2 or so. millions of inhabitants.

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

Meriam Adhbi al-Jalahma, head 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 clinical trials.”

The vaccine “offers excellent protection against serious infection with COVID-19,” the statement added.

In an unusual move, South Africa started administering the J&J vaccine to health workers while he was still in the testing phase. The country, where a variant of the virus is causing a new wave of infections, switched to J&J from AstraZeneca after a small study suggested he was unable to prevent mild COVID-19 in moderate caused by the most contagious variant.

The long-awaited J&J vaccine promises to offer the United States a third vaccine option and help speed up vaccinations by requiring only one dose instead of two. Food and Drug Administration scientists have confirmed that overall, the vaccine is around 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and around 85% effective against the most serious disease. The agency also said J & J’s shot was safe.

The small state of Bahrain has recorded 119,858 coronavirus infections and 437 deaths. It has one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world, with almost 17% of the population having received at least one dose.

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