HealthDay News — The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, the European Union drug regulator said Thursday.
Officials hope the announcement from the European Medicines Agency will ease concerns about possible rare side effects involving blood clots that have prompted more than a dozen countries — mostly in Europe — to temporarily suspend use of the vaccine, The New York Times reported.
No causative link between the vaccine and blood clots or severe bleeding has been shown, and most of the countries that halted use of the vaccine said they would start using it again once the agency gave the green light. However, the pause in the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine could have significant consequences in Europe, where many countries have rising rates of infections. While the vaccine accounts for less than 20 percent of the hundreds of millions of doses ordered by the European Union, it was a vital part of early vaccination rollout plans, The Times reported. The vaccine, sold without the goal of earning a profit, is a keystone of the World Health Organization’s efforts to protect poor and middle-income countries.
“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization,” the WHO said Wednesday. “This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place.”