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The rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been suspended in several European countries over fears it could be linked to blood clots.
On Monday, Germany, France, Italy and Spain joined countries such including the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark by pausing their rollouts of the jab.
However, on Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there was no indication Oxford/AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine was the cause of reported blood clots.
Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA told a virtual press conference: “I want to also stress at present there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions.
“They have not come up in the clinical trials and they are not listed as known side events with this vaccine.
“In clinical trials, both vaccinated people and people who received the placebo have shown some very small number of blood clot developments.
“The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”
There have been about 40 reported cases in Europe of people suffering blood clots after having the jab and the World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting on Tuesday to review the vaccine.
But the WHO, along with the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), have also said there is no evidence of any link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.
On Monday, British prime minister Boris Johnson said there was “no reason at all” to stop the vaccine’s rollout.
Norway, Bulgaria and Iceland have also suspended their use of the jab.
Johnson said the MRHA is “one of the toughest and most experienced regulators in the world”.
He added: “They see no reason at all to discontinue the vaccination programme… for either of the vaccines that we’re currently using.”
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would accept the jab “without hesitation”.
On Tuesday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast: “Different countries have different approaches but I can tell you crystal clear that the UK regulator, the European EU regulator and the WHO all say that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and people should continue to take it.
“We respect the process and procedures that some other countries may need to go through but the vaccine is safe and people should certainly continue to take it and to protect themselves and their friends and family.”
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the decision to pause rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could be a “disaster” for COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Europe.
Asked for his advice to those in the UK who are booked to receive the jab, Prof Openshaw told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I really wouldn’t be worried at the present time.
“I think it is very clear that the benefits of being vaccinated at the moment so far outweigh the possible concern over this rather rare type of blood clot.
“I think it is a disaster for the vaccination uptake in Europe, which is already on slightly unsteady ground in some countries.”
The director general of Italy’s medicines authority, Nicola Magrini, told Italian daily newspaper la Repubblica that the decision by some European countries to suspend the rollout was a “political one”.
“We got to the point of a suspension because several European countries, including Germany and France, preferred to interrupt vaccinations… to put them on hold in order to carry out checks. The choice is a political one,” he said, adding that the vaccine was safe.
Watch: Boris Johnson says Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe