The European Medicines Agency says the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks after several countries pause roll-outs amid fears over blood clots.
The European Union drug regulator has said that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective” after several mostly European countries suspended its use following reports of blood clots after the jab inoculation.
Speaking during a press briefing on Thursday, Emer Cooke, head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is “a safe and effective option to protect citizens against COVID-19”.
Cooke said that the agency “cannot rule out definitively a link” between rare types of blood clots and the vaccine, and experts recommend raising awareness among doctors and recipients of possible risks.
But she said in a briefing the “clear” conclusion of the review was that the vaccine “benefits in protecting people from COVID-19 with the associated risk of death or hospitalisation outweighs the possible risks.”
The EMA recommended adding a description of these cases to the vaccine leaflets so health workers and patients would be aware of these rare blood clots.
But Cooke also said that the jab “demonstrated that at least 60 percent efficacy in clinical trials and preventing coronavirus disease. And in fact, the real-world evidence suggests that the effectiveness could be even higher than that.”
Over 16 countries have suspended the use of the jab, developed with Oxford University, after about dozens of reports of blood clots and at least 5 deaths among people who had received the shot. Most of the countries said they were waiting from the European regulator’s investigation to decide on weather to restart their inoculation campaign with the AstraZenaca vaccine.
Cooke also noted that thousands of people across the EU develop thromboses every year for a variety of reasons and that there were no reports of increased blood clots in the clinical studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A permanent pause of the vaccine would have inferred a serious blow to the Europe’s inoculation effort which is already lingering behind due to vaccine shortages and where many countries are battling the resurgence of a third wave.
In the past week, COVID-19 infections have begun to rise steadily, from 200 per million in mid-February to 270 per million last week-end. That level is still a long way off from the EU record of 490 per million in November, but a worrying trend nonetheless.
Source: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES