Boris Johnson receives his first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca jab

19 March 2021, 18:45 | Updated: 19 March 2021, 19:30

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson given his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Yesterday the UK regulator and European regulator both dismissed fears over extremely rare blood clots
  • Multiple EU countries forced to climb down over suspension of the jab
  • Norway, Sweden and Denmark still not offering the AstraZeneca jab

By Asher McShane

The Prime Minister has received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster, London.

Boris Johnson gave a double thumbs-up after being administered the vaccine at around 6:30pm by nurse and clinical pod lead Lily Harrington.

It comes following the announcement of several European countries that they would start giving the jab again after regulators dismissed concerns about extremely rare blood clots.

Just minutes after being inoculated, the PM wrote on Twitter: "I've just received my first Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine dose.

"Thank you to all of the incredible scientists, NHS staff and volunteers who helped make this happen.

"Getting the jab is the best thing we can do to get back to the lives we miss so much. Let's get the jab done."

16 regions of France, including Paris, have entered a strict new lockdown from today.

Boris Johnson received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab on Friday
Boris Johnson received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab on Friday. Picture: PA

Speaking at Thursday night's Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said: "The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe - the thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid. Which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes."

Countries, including Germany and France, reversed their decision to temporarily pause its use over blood clot concerns after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) called the vaccine "safe and effective".

Mr Johnson, who was admitted to hospital last year after contracting coronavirus, got his first AstraZeneca dose today.

France, Italy and Germany, along with Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania, have confirmed they will resume rollout of the Oxford shot on Friday, while Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they will follow suit next week, although Spain said it could exclude certain groups.

Norway, Sweden and Denmark have said they will continue their hold on the AstraZeneca jab, despite the EMA's ruling.

All three countries said the pause would continue while they conduct their own independent reviews of the jab's safety.

"We want to thoroughly review the situation before we make a conclusion," said Geir Bukholm, director of the Division of Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

"This will take some time, and we will provide an update at the end of next week."

Like 56-year-old Mr Johnson, French prime minister Jean Castex is expected to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.

The UK Prime Minister urged the population to continue taking up the offer of a shot to ensure coronavirus cases continue to plummet so he can keep to his current timetable for easing the lockdown in England.

A further 91 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, with an additional 6,303 lab-confirmed cases.

"The way to ensure this (lockdown easing) happens is to get that jab when your turn comes, so let's get the jab done," Mr Johnson said.

Boris Johnson said getting the jab is "best thing we can do to get back" to normal
Boris Johnson said getting the jab is "best thing we can do to get back" to normal. Picture: PA

His comments came after the EMA confirmed the vaccine is "safe and effective" and its benefits outweigh any risks.

However, the regulator said it "cannot rule out definitively" a link between "a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious blood clotting disorders" and the vaccine, with investigations ongoing.

Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said this situation was not unexpected, adding that "when you vaccinate millions of people" such reports of rare events will occur.

But the EMA has concluded there is no overall increase in the risk of blood clots with the vaccine, and in fact it is likely to reduce the overall risk of clots.

Ms Cooke said: "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.

In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also concluded that any link between the jab and clots is unproven, and the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks.

Five men in the UK have suffered an "extremely rare" blood clot problem in the brain after having the AstraZeneca vaccine, with one of them subsequently dying, though no causal link with the jab has been established.

The MHRA said it was looking at the reports but stressed the events were "extremely rare" and there was a possibility they could have been caused by Covid itself.