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AstraZeneca insists its Covid-19 vaccine is safe after countries halt rollout
14 March 2021, 21:13
AstraZeneca has insisted its Covid-19 vaccine is safe after concerns around blood clots prompted several countries to halt the rollout of the drug.
The pharmaceutical giant said it has reviewed safety data in more than 17 million people vaccinated across the UK and EU which shows no evidence of an increased risk.
People across the UK are still being urged to get their vaccine but Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia and Italy, as well as non-EU countries Norway and Iceland, have all halted their rollout.
The number of cases of blood clots reported is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population, AstraZeneca's chief medical officer Ann Taylor said.
The statement comes after Irish Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Sunday that use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was being temporarily suspended as a "precautionary step".
Mr Donnelly said: "The decision to temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was based on new information from Norway that emerged late last night.
"This is a precautionary step."
AstraZeneca said its review had found no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country.
Dr Taylor said: "Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.
"The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety."
The UK's medicines regulator said available evidence does not suggest the vaccine is the cause of the blood clots.
Dr Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said: "We are aware of the action in Ireland.
"We are closely reviewing reports but given the large number of doses administered, and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.
"People should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so."