EU to end AZ and J&J contracts at expiry - paper

The EU Commission has reportedly decided not to renew COVID-19 vaccine contracts next year with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

That's according Italian daily La Stampa on Wednesday, citing a source from the Italian health ministry.

The paper reported, quote: "The European Commission, in agreement with the leaders of many EU countries, has decided that the contracts with the companies that produce viral vector vaccines that are valid for the current year will not be renewed at their expiry."

It added that Brussels would rather focus on shots that use messenger RNA technology, such as Pfizer's and Moderna's.

A spokesman for the EU Commission said it was keeping all options open, to be prepared for the next stages of the pandemic.

The Italian health ministry declined to comment.

It's the latest setback for both AstraZeneca and J&J.

Johnson & Johnson's single-shot has also been hit by concerns over blood clots, with European regulators reviewing such cases and U.S. federal health agencies recommending pausing its use for a few days.

President Joe Biden sought to reassure the American public on Tuesday after six women developed rare blood clots after getting the shot.

Some countries are also restricting use of the AstraZeneca shot to certain age groups or suspending use, after European and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.

Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to stop using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether.