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UPDATE 1-Germany sets no limits on use of J&J COVID-19 shot

* STIKO meeting on J&J shot did not lead to restrictions

* Expert panel to meet next week to evaluate new data

* PEI head says vaccine is safe and effective (Recasts, adds details on STIKO meetings)

BERLIN, April 23 (Reuters) - Germany has decided not to impose limits on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the country’s vaccine regulator said on Friday, adding the expert panel that decides on its use will meet next week to evaluate new data.

Europe’s drug regulator backed J&J’s vaccine this week after examining cases of a rare blood clotting issue in U.S. adults who received a dose. But it left it up to the European Union’s member states to decide how to use it.

Germany’s vaccine committee, known as STIKO, has limited the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot to those aged 60 and above due to the risk of rare blood clots.

Klaus Cichutek, the head of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute, said J&J’s vaccine was safe and effective and that the frequency of reports of an extremely rare clotting issue were 10 times lower than with the AstraZeneca shot.

A meeting of STIKO on Thursday to evaluate data around J&J’s vaccine had not prompted any restriction on the use of the vaccine, he said.

“There will be further STIKO meetings next week and an evaluation will be made on the basis of the new data,” he told a news conference in Berlin.

The EMA examined eight cases of clotting that occurred in U.S. adults under 60, mostly women, within three weeks of vaccination with J&J’s single shot. The cases were reported out of more than 7 million doses administered in the United States as of April 13.

EU countries are relying on the vaccine - the fourth to be authorised for use in Europe - to help speed up vaccination campaigns amid a spike in infection that have forced some countries to re-impose lockdowns. (Reporting by Caroline Copley and Riham Alkousaa, editing by Kirsti Knolle nd Nick Macfie)

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