Germany and France became the latest countries to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine even as the company said there is no scientific evidence it is linked to reports to blood clots in some patients, the Associated Press reports.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the country would suspend the vaccine until at least Tuesday, when the European medical commission will issue a recommendation.
Germany also announced on Monday it will suspend the shots pending further investigation.
“Today’s decision is a purely precautionary measure,” said health minister Jens Spahn.
Denmark, Ireland, Thailand, the Netherland, Norway, Iceland, Congo, and Bulgaria are among other countries that have halted the vaccine to investigate reports of blood clots that occurred after vaccination.
AstraZeneca says no evidence of link:
“A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.
The company acknowledged reports of blood clots in vaccine recipients but noted that the number 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.”
“Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population,” chief medical officer Ann Taylor said in a statement. “The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”
Public health organizations back vaccine:
The European Commission and the World Health Organization continue to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine, arguing that there are no safety risks. The US also supports the use of the vaccine but the FDA has not yet granted an emergency use authorization to allow its use.
AstraZeneca has also faced supply shortages in certain countries, leading them to instead turn to the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.