Go back

Countries to resume AstraZeneca vaccinations after safety verdict

Benefits of jab outweigh risks, European Medicines Agency reiterates after investigation

Several European governments that suspended use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine due to fears it could cause blood clots have announced that they will resume administering it, following recommendations by the European Medicines Agency.

An EMA safety committee that had been investigating potential links between the vaccine and a small number of health problems involving blood clots concluded on 18 March that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks associated with it.

“The vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots (thromboembolic events) in those who receive it,” the EMA said. “Overall the number of thromboembolic events reported after vaccination…was lower than that expected in the general population.”

However, the EMA added that the vaccine “may be” associated with “very rare” cases of clots associated with low levels of a component of blood called platelets. It said “some concerns remain” regarding younger people and that more analysis is warranted.

Nevertheless, the EMA said its committee “was of the opinion that the vaccine’s proven efficacy in preventing hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 outweighs the extremely small likelihood of developing [problems]”.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain were among the countries set to resume their use of the jab following the publication of the conclusions, with about 20 European countries having suspended its administration.

The EMA stressed throughout its investigation that it thought the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks, and the agency’s head Emer Cooke warned the suspensions could harm public trust in vaccines.