France and Germany suspend use of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab

15 March 2021, 15:02 | Updated: 15 March 2021, 15:38

A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to a patient at a drive-through vaccination center, in Milan
A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to a patient at a drive-through vaccination center, in Milan. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

France and Germany have suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid concerns over side effects.

Ten nations so far have suspended use of the vaccination due to concerns over blood clots with France and Germany adding to the list of countries today.

Emmanuel Macron confirmed this afternoon that France is suspending use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a precaution.

Germany's Federal Ministry of Health announced earlier that the use of the vaccine was being suspended.

The country's Health Ministry said the move was a "precaution" on the advice of Germany's national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, to allow for the reports to be investigated.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots: What’s the evidence?

The Netherlands announced last night that it was suspending use of the jab until March 29.

The UK's regulator says there is no evidence the vaccine causes clots. The World Health Organisation has also said there is no evidence of a link to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier confirmed an investigation is under way.

"As soon as WHO has gained a full understanding of these events, the findings and any unlikely changes to current recommendations will be immediately communicated to the public," he said.

"As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus."

Denmark suspended use of the vaccine last week, followed by Norway, Iceland and EU countries including Bulgaria, Ireland and the Netherlands on Sunday evening.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford vaccine group who developed the jab, has said there is "very reassuring evidence that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe been given so far".

Asked directly if he could tell the public that the vaccine is safe, Boris Johnson said today: "Yes, I can. In the MHRA we have one of the toughest and most experienced regulators in the world.

"They see no reason at all to discontinue the vaccination programme... for either of the vaccines that we're currently using.

"They believe that they are highly effective in driving down not just hospitalisation but also serious disease and mortality.

"We continue to be very confident about the programme and it's great to see it being rolled out at such speed across the UK."

Italy has also suspended use of a particular batch of the AstraZeneca jabs. The country is beginning a new lockdown today as a surge in cases sweeps some countries on the continent.