US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson began delivering its one-shot Covid-19 vaccine to the European Union on Monday, with the bloc's executive branch expecting 55 million doses by the end of June.
"The first doses are leaving the warehouses for the member states today," European Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker told reporters in Brussels.
A corporate spokesperson for the drugmaker in Germany said that deliveries to the 27 EU states plus Norway and Iceland had begun, without disclosing the size of the first batches.
"This is the first step to fulfil the company's obligation to deliver 200 million doses to the European Union as well as Norway and Iceland in 2021," spokesperson Silke Breitgoff said.
The EU has a population of roughly 450 million.
Approved for use in the EU
Belgium's coronavirus vaccine taskforce confirmed the receipt of close to 36,000 shots on Monday, news agency Belga reported.
The drug was approved for use in the EU one month ago, the fourth to get the green-light after those produced by BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
In contrast to other EU-authorized jabs, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only needs to be administered once rather twice.
The doses can also be stored in a standard fridge, unlike the ultra-cold conditions required for some vaccines.