France and Germany halt use of AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca vaccine
AstraZeneca vaccine

Al Jazeera – Germany, France and Italy have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several reports of blood clots in people who received the shot.

The flurry of suspensions on Monday came after a number of other countries, mostly in Europe, halted their rollouts late last week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has backed the use of the vaccine and said it has seen no evidence that the shot had caused clotting in some people who received it. It is reviewing the reports related to shot and urged countries not to suspend vaccinations.

Germany was the first to signal it would follow suit on Monday, with the country’s health minister, Jens Spahn, saying its decision was taken on the advice of the national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute.

The institute had called for further investigation into seven reported cases of clots in the brains of people who had received this vaccination.

“Today’s decision is a purely precautionary measure,” Spahn said.

France and Italy announced similar moves shortly afterwards.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the use of the AstraZeneca shot would be suspended as a precautionary measure until at least Tuesday afternoon when the European Union’s medicines regulator – the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – will issue its recommendation over the vaccine.

Macron did not elaborate on the reasoning behind the decision, but told a news conference he hoped France would be able to vaccinate with AstraZeneca shots again “soon”.

Italy’s medicines authority AIFA meanwhile said it was implementing its own suspension as a “precautionary and temporary measure” pending rulings by the EMA.

The announcement followed the seizure of hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine by Italian prosecutors in the northern region of Piedmont, where a teacher died following his vaccination.

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