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SAS to avoid Belarus airspace after forced Ryanair landing

Scandinavian airline SAS said on Monday that it would avoid Belarusian airspace after Belarus forced a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight carrying an opposition blogger to land and arrested him.

SAS to avoid Belarus airspace after forced Ryanair landing
Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/SCAn SAS plane flies into the sunset at Oslo's Gardemoen Airport. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/Scanpix

The announcement by SAS followed a recommendation from the Swedish Transport Agency calling on Swedish airlines to consider avoiding the airspace of Belarus.

“We will follow the instructions and reroute the flights that are concerned,” SAS told AFP

The Transport Agency issued its recommendation shortly after 3pm on Monday, saying that it was acting on the advice of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). 

“The Swedish Transport Agency urges Swedish airlines to take into account the uncertain situation and that they should therefore consider avoiding flying in Belarusian airspace,” the agency wrote, with the agency’s unit manager Simon Posluk adding that the advice would remain valid until “the situation and the issue has stabilised”. 

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FEATURE

EU countries to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccines from mid-April

Johnson & Johnson said on Monday it would start delivering its single-shot Covid vaccine to Europe on April 19th, giving the continent a boost as it struggles to speed up its vaccination drive.

EU countries to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccines from mid-April
(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

The pharmaceutical giant’s jab was approved by European Union regulators in mid-March, following approval of vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

The 27-nation EU has signed a firm order for 200 million J&J doses and an option for 200 million more.

As well as being the first that requires just a single injection rather than two, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is easier to store.

The EMA gave the green light after saying clinical trials involving volunteers in the United States, South Africa and South American countries found the J&J jab was 67 percent effective in preventing moderate-to-severe Covid globally.

The EMA’s report said: “The trial found a 67% reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after 2 weeks in people who received COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (116 cases out of 19,630 people) compared with people given placebo (348 of 19,691 people). This means that the vaccine had a 67% efficacy.”

The jab was the fourth to be endorsed for use in the EU after vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech , AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Moderna, and is recommended for those over 18 years of age, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

“With this latest positive opinion, authorities across the European Union will have another option to combat the pandemic and protect the lives and health of their citizens. This is the first vaccine that can be used as a single dose,” said Emer Cooke, EMA’s Executive Director after the jab was approved.

The study said the side effects from the COVID-19 Janssen vaccine were usually mild or moderate and cleared within a couple of days after vaccination, the EMA said.

Several European countries have enacted new restrictions to curb a surge of infections, as vaccination campaigns have been slower than in other countries such as the United States or Britain.

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