The EU’s leading states are to restart their roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after Europe’s medicines regulator concluded it was “safe and effective”. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reviewed the jab after 13 European countries suspended use of the vaccine over fears of a link to blood clots. It found the jab was “not associated” with a higher risk of clots.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain said they would resume using the jab. It is up to individual EU states to decide whether and when to re-start vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Sweden said it needed a “few days” to decide. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called on countries to continue using the vaccine, and is due to release the results of its own review into the vaccine’s safety on Friday. The agency’s investigation focused on a small number of cases of unusual blood disorders. In particular, it was looking at cases of cerebral venous thrombosis – blood clots in the head. Decisions to suspend use of the vaccine sparked concerns over the pace of the region’s vaccination drive, which had already been affected by supply shortages.
More than 20 countries stopped vaccinations earlier this week following reports of mostly young patients who suffered severe clotting disorders and rare types of strokes shortly after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Within hours of EMA’s statement, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and at least seven other countries said they will restart vaccinations as early as Friday.