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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine deemed “safe and effective” by EMA

Published on 19/03/21 at 09:39am
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been cleared for continued use by the EMA following an investigation into the reports of 37 thromboembolic events across Europe.

In a press conference on Thursday, Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the EMA, said: “The committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion: 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."

The EMA’s investigation into the vaccine was launched after 13 European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and Sweden – halted the vaccine's rollout over clotting fears.

However, the agency’s safety committee could not rule out a potential link between the reported events of a rare clotting disorder and the vaccine, and is continuing to investigate these cases.

Within hours of the EMA’s decision Germany announced it would resume the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with other countries including France, Italy, mainland Portugal, Lithuania, and Latvia also resuming vaccinations today.

The WHO has also added its weight behind the EMA’s conclusion, with Hans Klude, European Director saying: "As of now, we do not know whether some or all of the conditions have been caused by the vaccine or by other coincidental factors. At this point in time, however, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh its risks – and its use should continue, to save lives."

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to receive his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine later today, after reassuring the public it was safe.

In a Downing Street conference on Thursday he said: “The thing that isn't safe is catching COVID-19, which is why it is so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes".

However, not all countries that have halted AstraZeneca inoculations have resumed today. The Netherlands will begin next week, after missing 110,000 vaccinations, Spain has stated it will restart jabs on Wednesday and Denmark is set to announce its decision later today. Sweden and Norway are also yet to make a decision, with Sweden awaiting analysis from its own experts.

Kat Jenkins

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