EU countries to resume AstraZeneca jabs after 'safe' verdict

WION Web Team
Paris, France Published: Mar 19, 2021, 08:35 AM(IST)

AstraZeneca Covid vaccine (file photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The announcement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came after the WHO and Britain's health watchdog both said it was far riskier to not get the shot as several countries face a worrying rise in coronavirus cases.

Leading EU countries are set to resume AstraZeneca vaccinations after the European medical regulator said the jab was "safe and effective" and not associated with a higher blood clot risk.

The announcement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came after the WHO and Britain's health watchdog both said it was far riskier to not get the shot as several countries face a worrying rise in coronavirus cases. Several European countries, to this end, said they would soon resume vaccinations.

The list of these countries includes Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

EMA chief Emer Cooke said Thursday that its "committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion: this is a safe and effective vaccine" after an investigation into the AstraZeneca jab.

"The committee also concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots," she added.

However, the agency said it "cannot rule out definitively" a link to a rare clotting disorder.  

The UK health regulator also said there were no links between blood clots and the Pfizer vaccine. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) repeated that it was better to take the AstraZeneca vaccine than not.

Also read | EU, UK regulator shrug off AstraZeneca vaccine concerns

AstraZeneca's chief medical officer Ann Taylor said that "vaccine safety is paramount and we welcome the regulators' decisions which affirm the overwhelming benefit of our vaccine in stopping the pandemic".

Norway and Sweden, however, said they were not ready to resume using the vaccine. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it "took note" of the EMA's ruling, but it was "premature" to draw conclusions and it would announce its own opinion by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, France on Thursday became the latest nation to toughen Covid restrictions, announcing a month-long limited lockdown for Paris and several other regions to try and stave off a third wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals. 

The measures fall short of a full-blown lockdown, but will see non-essential shops closed and outdoor movement restricted in the affected regions, while schools are to stay open. 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the new measures as well as saying he would get the AstraZeneca vaccine "to show that we can have complete confidence in it".

Bulgaria and Ukraine also readied for tougher restrictions to stem rising cases, while the WHO issued a grim update on ballooning infections in Central Europe and the Balkans.

Italy, the first European country to become engulfed by the pandemic, held a national day of mourning Thursday, with a ceremony in Bergamo, the northern city that became known as "Italy's Wuhan" -- the Chinese city where the first Covid-19 cases were identified.

Italy chose March 18 for the memorial to coincide with the day in 2020 when the army had to step in to carry away scores of coffins from Bergamo's overwhelmed crematorium.

(with inputs from agencies)

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