Darren Adam 1am - 4am
Matt Hancock insists Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe
16 March 2021, 13:38 | Updated: 16 March 2021, 21:35
Matt Hancock has insisted the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine "is safe" and has told the public "if you get the call, get the jab" as a full investigation is launched into whether it increase the chance of a blood clot.
The Health Secretary sought to reassure the public on Tuesday evening after several European nations, including Ireland, halted its rollout.
He told reporters: "The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is safe, we know that over 10 million people have had it in this country, and that's what the British regulator says but also the World Health Organisation and even the European regulator.
"We keep the effects of these vaccines under review all the time and we know that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is saving lives in the UK right now so if you get the call, get the jab."
The Health Secretary said "huge numbers" of people are still taking up the jab, adding: "The enthusiasm for getting the vaccine is incredibly strong and we're still seeing that."
It follows the European Medicines Agency's conclusion earlier that there is "no indication" the drug causes blood clots, with the full results shared on Thursday.
EMA executive director, Emer Cooke, told a press conference: "We have pulled together an ad hoc meeting again today to help us evaluate these cases with all the surrounding information that the member states will have.
"The experts will then carry on their assessment and again will meet on Thursday to come to a conclusion on the full information that has been gathered and to advise us as to whether there are any further actions that need to be taken.
"We will inform the public of the outcome immediately after this meeting.
"Our experts are working tirelessly to carry out this assessment as quickly as possible, but it needs a scientific evaluation, we need to have the facts first, we cannot come to a conclusion until we have done a thorough scientific analysis and we owe it to the European citizens to deliver this clear and science-based response."
Germany, France, Spain and Italy paused injections of the vaccine amid concerns about blood clots in people who have had the shot, although the European Union's medical regulator insisted its benefits outweighed the risk of side effects.
The Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand have already temporarily suspended their use of the jab.
Mr Raab told Nick Ferrari: “Every country will have a regulatory approach that will want to check any issues that arise either through trials, as we’ve done with allergic reactions, right the way through to the roll out.
“But what is crystal clear from the evidence that we’ve got, and obviously we’ve had a substantial rollout, and our own regulator [has said] that there is no risk from this vaccine."
Mr Raab insisted “people should take the vaccine because it is saving lives" adding that this "is backed up by the EU regulator which says there’s no evidence that would justify suspending the rollout... and it’s backed up by the World Health Organisation".
“We respect other countries going through their processes but the message is crystal clear, this vaccine is safe and people should take it,” he said.