UK PM Johnson Backs AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine after Countries Halt Jab
By Staff, Agencies
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday dismissed growing concerns regarding the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab after cases of blood clotting were reported in vaccinated people, urging Britons to continue taking it.
“We've been clear that it's both safe and effective, and when people are asked to come forward and take it, they should do so in confidence,” a spokesman for Downing Street was cited by the Daily Mail as saying.
The Prime Minister also hailed the success of the vaccination program across the nation.
“And in fact you're starting to see the results of the vaccine program in terms of the [lower] number of cases we're seeing across the country, the number of deaths, number of hospitalizations,” added Johnson’s spokesman.
As over 11 million doses of the Oxford jab have been administered in the UK, Dr. Phil Bryan, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] head of vaccines safety was quoted by the outlet as saying:
“Reports of blood clots received so far are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population. The safety of the public will always come first. We are keeping this issue under close review but available evidence does not confirm that the vaccine is the cause.”
This comes after a number of countries earlier moved to halt the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab amid an EU-launched probe into reports of blood clots in vaccinated Europeans.
22 cases of blood clotting had been registered so far by the European Medicines Agency among the three million given the shot on the continent, with a nurse in Austria, 49, having died from a clot on 8 March, reported Reuters.
Despite millions of doses of the vaccine being administered safely, concerns spiraled, with Denmark becoming the first to announce its suspension of the vaccine for 14 days as a ‘precautionary’ move, 'following reports of serious cases of blood clots' among people who had received the vaccine, stated the country's Health Authority.
The nation suspended the shots after a 60-year-old woman who received an AstraZeneca jab from the same batch – ABV5300 – used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died.
Defending the move of the Danish health authorities, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters:
“Things have gone well in Denmark, but there are some risks linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine that need to be examined more closely. That seems to me to be the right way to proceed.”
While also using vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Denmark is set to receive 2.6 million doses from AstraZeneca over the coming months.
A host of European countries, such as Norway and Iceland, have taken similar moves, blocking the use of AstraZeneca jabs. Italy suspended a different batch, designated ABV2856, after the death of a non-commissioned naval officer of cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose, followed by the death of another person.
Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have suspended the use of the specific batch of AstraZeneca vaccine linked with the fatal case in Austria. That consignment had been sent to 17 European countries.