Europe warned AstraZeneca vaccine pause could create 'disaster' for uptake
- Credit: PA
UK leaders and medical experts have defended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine despite multiple European countries pausing its use due to concerns over possible adverse side effects.
Boris Johnson said there was “no reason at all” to stop the vaccine’s rollout and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would accept her jab “without hesitation” when called on.
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride also urged people to retain confidence in the jab as he received his first dose of the AstraZeneca version.
It comes as Germany, France, Spain and Italy paused injections of the vaccine amid concerns about blood clots in people who have had the shot, although the European Union’s medical regulator insisted its benefits outweighed the risk of side effects.
The Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand have already temporarily suspended their use of the jab.
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said “many thousands of people” develop blood clots every year in the EU and “the number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population”.
The EMA’s safety committee is reviewing the data and working closely with the company, experts in blood disorders, and authorities including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
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Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the decision could be a “disaster” for Covid-19 vaccine uptake in Europe.
Asked what he would say to those in the UK who are booked to receive the vaccine, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I really wouldn’t be worried at the present time.
“I think it is very clear that the benefits of being vaccinated at the moment so far outweigh the possible concern over this rather rare type of blood clot.
“It really is a completely one-sided argument statistically that we need to be vaccinating.
“I think it is a disaster for the vaccination uptake in Europe, which is already on slightly unsteady ground in some countries.”
It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged countries to continue using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
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