The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to publish the initial results of its investigations into whether there is a connection between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and blood clots on Thursday afternoon.
The EMA’s opinion is highly anticipated at a time when the European Union, amid a vaccine shortage, has millions of doses of this vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.
Several countries in the European Union, including Germany, Italy and France, have chosen to suspend the launch of the vaccine due to unconfirmed reports of an increase in the rate of blood clots among recipients.
So far, the EMA and the World Health Organization have said there is no evidence that the vaccine is the culprit.
EMA director Emer Cook said Tuesday that the regulator remained “firmly convinced” that the benefit of continuing to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweighed the risks.
Cooke said this was not an “unexpected” situation when millions of people are being vaccinated and thousands develop blood clots each year.
“Our role at the EMA is to evaluate them, to make sure that any suspected adverse reactions are quickly investigated so that we can find out if it is a real side effect of the vaccine or is it a coincidence,” he said.
The EMA could also issue an “additional warning” for the use of the vaccine, Cooke said.
EU countries seek rapid thaw
Even before Thursday’s announcement by the European watchdog, the president of the European Commission made it clear that the AstraZeneca vaccine will remain a pillar of the EU’s vaccine strategy.
“I trust AstraZeneca, I trust vaccines,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
Almost as soon as the French president froze the vaccines on Monday, top French officials began to worry about the shock to public opinion in a country where many already viewed the AstraZeneca vaccine as second-class.
The government now expects to announce the resumption of vaccines on Thursday.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who at 55 and with no known underlying health problems is not yet eligible for vaccination, said on national television Tuesday night that “it would be prudent for me to get vaccinated very quickly, as soon as possible. as the suspension is, hope, lifted. “
Castex said he wants to show his fellow citizens “that vaccination is the way out of this crisis.”
Italy follows a similar line. Health Minister Roberto Speranza says that European countries expect the EMA to deliver “the necessary clarifications and guarantees” this Thursday to be able to resume the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine “without hesitation.”
In Germany, where eight cases of blood clots are being investigated, officials defended the decision to suspend vaccines pending further investigation, but appeared ready to resume them soon. Health Ministry spokesman Hanno Kautz said: “It is clear that the EMA’s decision is binding and of course we will also follow the EMA’s decision.”
Lithuania’s president criticized his health minister’s decision to suspend injections, saying it causes “enormous damage to the entire vaccination process.”
Amós García, president of the Spanish Vaccination Association, said it will be difficult for governments to regain confidence in the general vaccination program against the coronavirus, no matter what the EMA announces.
“The problem when you question a vaccine is not that it affects that vaccine, but that it affects the entire vaccination world,” he said.
“Possibly there has been an excess of zeal” among governments like Spain that suspended vaccines, he said. But he praised Europe’s vaccine surveillance systems for quickly identifying and investigating blood clot problems. Spain is examining three such cases.
Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias defended the decision to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it is necessary to “continue to build trust” in efforts to combat COVID-19.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism