EU Backs AstraZeneca Vaccine, With an Asterisk

Medical agency cannot 'definitively' rule out a link to clots, but says benefits outweigh risks
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2021 12:10 PM CDT
EU Backs AstraZeneca Vaccine, With an Asterisk
Pharmacy Technician Katrina Bonwick administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Wheatfield surgery in Luton, England, Thursday, March 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The EU's medical agency made clear on Thursday that it wants nations to continue doling shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But it added a caveat that could give ammunition to the dozen or so European nations that have suspended its use:
  • Bottom line: “Our scientific position is that is that this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against COVID-19," says Emer Cook, head of the European Medicines Agency, per the AP.
  • But .. The agency “cannot rule out definitively a link” between the vaccine and a relatively small number of blood clots that have been reported among recipients. “A situation like the one we have seen here is not unexpected,” adds Cooke for context, per the New York Times. “When you vaccinate millions of people, it’s inevitable that rare or serious instances or illnesses will occur in the time immediately following vaccination.”

  • A change: The agency will add a warning to the vaccine for health workers and recipients, and educate them on symptoms to watch for, reports the Washington Post. The agency conducted its own investigation into about 30 clotting cases, notes Reuters. Its experts essentially concluded that the vaccine's benefits outweigh any risks.
  • The message: “If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow,” says Cooke. “But I would want to know if anything happened to me after vaccination, what I should do about it, and that’s what we’re doing today.”
  • In America: The company is expected to apply for US approval in the coming weeks for its vaccine, the AP notes. Currently, only vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are in use here.
(More AstraZeneca stories.)

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