France, Germany, Italy suspend AstraZeneca vaccine use

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration

Germany, France and Italy on Monday joined several European nations in blocking the roll out of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after several cases of blood clotting were reported in those who took the jab.

Germany’s Health Ministry announced it would stop administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with immediate effect, the BBC reported.

“The background to this decision follows new reports of cases of cerebral vein thrombosis connected with an AstraZeneca vaccination,” Health Minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the country was “suspending the vaccine until new advice was given by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday afternoon”.

Italy’s medicines agency extended a ban introduced on individual batches of the vaccine throughout the country, also pending the EMA decision.

The Netherlands, the Irish Republic, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria and Iceland have also temporarily halted the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia have postponed the launch of their rollouts.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, said there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine, adding that the agency was reviewing reports relating to the jab.

About 17 million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases of blood clots reported as of last week, according to AstraZeneca.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was authorised by the European Commission for use within the bloc on January 29.

Following recent concerns raised around blood clots or thrombotic events, AstraZeneca has reassured on the safety of its Covid-19 vaccine.

“Safety is of paramount importance and the company is continually monitoring the safety of its vaccine,” it said.

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