EU countries to restart AstraZeneca vaccine rollout as regulator rules it ‘safe and effective’

EU countries to restart AstraZeneca vaccine rollout as regulator rules it ‘safe and effective’ (Photo: Shutterstock)

A number of states in the European Union (EU) will restart their rollouts of the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine, following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) regulator’s confirmation that it is “safe and effective”.

The move comes after 13 countries temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine due to reports about blood clots among those who had received it.

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But the EMA concluded that “the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of... blood clots”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also called on countries to continue using the vaccine, and will be releasing its own review of the Oxford/Astrazeneca jab in the coming days.

Several leading EU states have already confirmed they will restart their rollouts, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Both the French President Jean Castex and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are due to receive a first dose of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine today (19 Mar).

‘Safe and effective’

The EMA did note that there is some evidence of links between the vaccine and “small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders," and will encourage further investigations of this issue.

The EMA’s executive director, Emer Cooke, said in a news conference that: "This is a safe and effective vaccine.

"Its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalisation outweigh the possible risks."

She added: “If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow. But I would want to know that if anything happened to me after vaccination what I should do about it and that's what we're saying today."

‘The Oxford jab is safe, the Pfizer jab is safe’

AstraZeneca has strongly denied that the jabs pose any additional risk of blood clots, noting that of 17 million people vaccinated they have only received reports of 37 people experiencing blood clots.

It said this is “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally” and that there is a similar level of blood clotting “across other licensed Covid-19 vaccines”.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference last night, Boris Johnson sought to quell concerns about vaccines.

He said: ”The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid.”