The drug regulator of the European Union on Thursday concluded that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine was safe and effective, and that the benefits of its use outweigh risks, AP reported.
Several European countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after unusual blood clots were reported in a small number of vaccine recipients.
“Our scientific position is that this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against COVID-19,” said European Medicines Agency head Emer Cooke. “It demonstrated at least 60% efficacy in clinical trials and preventing coronavirus disease. And in fact, the real-world evidence suggests that the effectiveness could be even higher than that.”
Cooke, however, added that the agency “cannot rule out definitively a link” between rare types of blood clots and the vaccine. She said that experts recommend raising awareness among doctors and recipients of possible risks.
The European Medicines Agency recommended adding a description of these cases to the vaccine leaflets so health workers and patients would be aware of these rare blood clots.
The statement was aimed at calming anxious governments that halted using the vaccine, even as they struggle to contain a new wave of infection. Denmark, Norway and Iceland temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines on March 11. Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Bulgaria and The Netherlands also followed suit. Other countries such as Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxemburg, however, did not completely suspend the use of the vaccine but stopped using just one batch.
On Monday, the World Health Organization, too, had observed that countries should continue using the coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca. WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had said no causal link has yet been established between clotting and the vaccine.
Concerns have been also raised in India, where the vaccine is being locally produced by the Serum Institute in Pune. The Indian government, however, on Thursday clarified that there was “no signal of concern” regarding the use of the Covishield vaccine.