A military health worker prepares a dose of Covishield, AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine against Corona-19 Covid-19, made by the Indian Serum Institute, at a military hospital in Colombo on January 29, 2021.
sign of S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – Two additional countries have decided to suspend use AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe on Tuesday due to blood clot concerns, while regulators continued with a new revision of its side effects.
Sweden and Latvia announced on Tuesday morning that they had pausing their presentation AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford. Portugal, Luxembourg and Slovenia decided to stop the use of shots on Monday night. Earlier in the day, Germany, France, Italy and Spain also joined a group of countries that have stopped using the vaccine.
So far, 13 European Union countries have made this decision, while several others have stopped using individual batches of AstraZeneca vaccines. Austria decided for the first time to suspend the use of a certain series of injections of AstraZeneca last week, after the death of a 49-year-old woman who received this vaccine.
The European health regulator insisted that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with the associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”
In a statement Monday, the European Medicines Agency said it would “further review the information” and convened an emergency meeting on the issue for Thursday. The institution then reiterated its position during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Currently, there are no indications that vaccination has caused these conditions,” said Emer Cooke, director of the European Medicines Agency. “The benefits still outweigh the risks, but this is a serious concern and needs a serious and detailed scientific assessment. That is what we are involved in at the moment.”
She added: “We are concerned that this could affect the trust of vaccines … but our job is to ensure that the products we approve are safe.”
The World Health Organization has called on states to continue vaccination campaigns with AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
A number of EU countries supported the shooting. In Belgium, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said on Monday that pausing its use would be “irresponsible”. Although authorities in the Czech Republic have also said they will continue to use the vaccine.
Outside the EU, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom also gathered in support of AstraZeneca.
To date, more than 6 million doses of AstraZenec injection have been administered in the EU, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
AstraZeneca said on Sunday that out of 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and the UK, 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism occurred, according to data received by March 8th.
“This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in the general population of this size and is similar with other licensed Covid-19 vaccines,” the company said in a statement.
Concerns about the vaccine could jeopardize the EU’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer. The AstraZeneca vaccine has proven popular in Europe so far because it is cheaper than rivals and easier to store. That could then potentially delay economic recovery in the region.
“Of course we need speed, not only for the economy, but mainly for the health of our citizens, but at the same time we need security,” European Commission Paolo Gentiloni told a news conference on Monday.
He added that the precautions were “justified” and that the review conducted by the EMA should provide “security to our EU citizens”.