Sweden on Tuesday became the latest country to pause use of
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as European regulators review safety data
following reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients.
The company and international regulators continue to say the
vaccine is safe, however, and many countries elsewhere in the world are forging
ahead with their vaccination campaigns.
The European Medicines Agency plans to meet Thursday to
review experts’ findings on the vaccine and decide whether action needs to be
taken. The agency has so far said that the benefits of receiving the shot
outweigh the risk of side effects.
The Swedish Public Health Agency said on Tuesday that it
would suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine pending the results of the EMA
meeting. Germany, France, Italy and Spain were among countries that suspended
use of the vaccine on Monday.
Also Tuesday, the German government said it would postpone
until after the EMA meeting a virtual summit of state governors called to
review the country’s vaccination efforts. The summit had been scheduled for
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is one of three authorized for use on
the European continent. But escalating concern about the shot has created
another setback for the European Union’s vaccination drive, which has been
plagued by shortages and other hurdles and is lagging far behind the efforts in
Britain and the U.S.
AstraZeneca said there is no evidence the vaccine carries an
increased risk of blood clots. There have been 37 reports of blood clots among
the more than 17 million people who have received the vaccine across the EU and
Britain, the company said.
“This is much lower than would be expected to occur
naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other
licensed COVID-19 vaccines,” AstraZeneca said.
Much of Asia has shrugged off concerns about the AstraZeneca
jab, with Thailand’s prime minister receiving a shot Tuesday as the country
started rolling out the vaccine.
“There are people who have concerns,” Prayuth Chan-ocha said
after his vaccination. “But we must believe doctors, believe in our medical
Thailand was the first country outside Europe to temporarily
suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But health authorities later decided to
go ahead with it, with Prayuth and members of his Cabinet receiving the first
Indonesia suspended use of the vaccine on Monday, saying it
was waiting for a full report from the World Health Organization regarding
possible side effects.
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