A vial of the Oxford University / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be seen at the Lochee Health Center in Dundee, Scotland, UK on January 4, 2021.
Andy Buchanan | Pool | Reuters
LONDON – France and Italy stand ready to resume vaccination programs with the AstraZeneca vaccine quickly once regulators confirm that it is still safe to use.
The European Medicines Agency’s preliminary statement on Tuesday was “encouraging,” the office of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a statement Tuesday after a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron. In the event of a positive EMA conclusion, France and Italy are ready to “immediately resume” vaccination with the vaccine.
The two countries are among more than a dozen that suspended AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s shooting after blood clots were reported in some of the vaccinated citizens.
Concerns about possible side effects of the vaccine arose last week after a woman died in Austria. Since then, more countries have reported cases of blood clots and abnormal numbers of platelets in some patients. AstraZeneca announced on Sunday that of the 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and the UK, 15 deep vein thrombosis events and 22 pulmonary embolism events occurred as of March 8.
We still firmly believe that the benefits … outweigh the risk of these side effects.
Managing Director at EMA
The European health authorities still believe that the shot can be used well in the fight against Covid-19. The EMA said Tuesday that there is “no evidence yet” that the reports of blood clots were directly caused by the vaccine.
“We still firmly believe that the benefits … outweigh the risk of these side effects,” said Emer Cooke, EMA Executive Director, at a news conference.
She confirmed that the facility will examine 30 reports of unusual blood disorders and will announce the results of that work on Thursday.
A group of EU countries including Belgium and Poland have continued to administer the AstraZeneca shot. The European countries that have suspended the vaccine are waiting for the EMA’s announcement to decide how to proceed.
In the meantime, the EMA is “concerned that this could affect vaccine confidence,” Cooke said Tuesday.
The EU vaccination program faced various hurdles. Public doubts about the safety of vaccines could ruin the EU’s main goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Tuesday: “It is crucial that citizens feel they have confidence in vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency so that we can fight this virus together.” “”
As of Monday, more than 6 million EU citizens had received the AstraZeneca vaccine from more than 46 million vaccinations, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The European Commission also called on member states on Tuesday to use every single dose of vaccine they have access to.
The ECDC data shows that more than 62 million doses have been distributed to Member States, indicating that almost 20 million doses have still been administered.