AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine dubbed safe; European countries to resume vaccinationLast updated on Mar 19, 2021, 11:23 am
A chunk of European countries, that had earlier stopped using AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine over blood clot concerns, will resume the vaccination drive after the jab got the support of the continent's top medical regulator.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday said that the vaccine was found safe and effective.
Previously, both the World Health Organization and the British watchdog rallied behind the vaccine.
The announcement was closely-watched, vaccine got EMA's approval
The findings of the investigation were revealed by Emer Cooke, the chief of the body.
"The committee concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots," she said.
In a bid to reassure the public, Cooke also stated, "If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow."
The agency saw rare but serious clotting disorders
However, she added that a handful of rare but serious clotting disorders did come to the fore, which led to an assessment.
"After days of in-depth analysis of lab results, clinical reports, autopsy reports, and further information from the clinical trials, we still cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine," she said.
The committee has, hence, recommended raising awareness.
EMA wants people to be educated about side effects
"What the committee has therefore recommended is to raise awareness of these possible risks making sure that they're included in the product information, drawing attention to these possible rare conditions, and providing information to healthcare professionals and vaccinated people to help spot and mitigate any possible side effects," she added.
Leading EU countries resumed vaccination drive; Norway, Sweden still skeptical
Subsequently, countries, like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria, declared that they would resume vaccinations.
However, Norway and Sweden still have doubts. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it is aware of the EMA's findings, adding that it would be "premature" to derive conclusions.
The agency would release its own findings by end of next week.
Countries may now struggle to reassure a fearful public
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca's Chief Medical Officer Ann Taylor welcomed EMA's report, saying that the findings "affirm the overwhelming benefit of our vaccine in stopping the pandemic."
Though EMA gave the nod, European nations could struggle to convince citizens now.
Giada Pietrolillo, a kindergarten teacher in Calabria, Italy, hasn't decided on taking the vaccine. "I am not sure I trust anyone anymore," Pietrolillo told NYT.