Watch again: Matt Hancock leads Downing Street press conference

17 March 2021, 16:01 | Updated: 17 March 2021, 18:06

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Matt Hancock is set to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm - watch it live here.

The Health Secretary will be joined by deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and Public Health England's head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsey. 

The briefing comes amid concerns over whether the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine can cause blood clots. 

On Tuesday evening, Mr Hancock sought to reassure the public the vaccine is safe, insisting there is no evidence the jab has caused blood clots after some European nations halted its rollout.  

The Health Secretary urged the public to come forward and get the jab as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) conducts a full scientific review - with France, Germany, Spain and Italy pausing their programmes.  

The regulator, which approved the vaccine for the EU, says it currently "remains convinced" that the "benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risk".  

It is due to offer a further update on Thursday after several European countries halted its use due to reports of some people suffering blood clots following vaccination.  

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday the benefits of the vaccine “outweigh the risks".

A statement said: "Vaccination against Covid-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally.”

Meanwhile, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has accused AstraZeneca of "underproducing and underdelivering" in vaccine production and said Europe is "ready to use whatever tool we need" to get their fair share.

In England, all over-50s who haven’t yet received a coronavirus vaccine are now being invited to book their appointment.