Italy 'felt under pressure' to halt AstraZeneca says Adler
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More than a dozen EU member states suspended the use of the Oxford vaccine on Monday after reports of blood clots as one of the side effects. But the decision, later admitted by some to be “political”, sparked the furious reaction of EU Commissioner Sylvain Giraud.
He tweeted on Tuesday: “What is the point to have scientific institutions like [European Medicines Agency] and WHO if decisions on vaccines are taken on political grounds?
“Resisting scientists’ advice now seem to be seen as a good point for politician.”
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Tuesday that there was still “no indication” that the vaccine was the cause of the “very rare” reported blood clots.
Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, told a press briefing: “The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”
Ms Cooke said 30 cases of blood clots had been reported to the EMA by March 10 among almost five million people vaccinated, but additional cases had been reported over the weekend.
She said there would be an increase in the reporting of such cases due to the publicity surrounding the current reports.
The EMA is looking at the incidence of blood clots and some reports of abnormally low levels of blood platelets among some people who have had the jab.
Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, said it was “reckless” to stop administering the vaccine.
He told the Daily Mail: “I keep hearing the phrase ‘abundance of caution’ being used in reference to countries pausing rollout of the Oxford vaccine.
“But is it really caution?”
Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the government body that recommended the suspension in Germany, explained that the decision was purely scientific.
There were “six cases of sinus vein thrombosis in women between the ages of around 20 and 50 years,” he told Welt.
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“Two of them tragically fatal. There is another case of cerebral haemorrhage with thrombosis in a man.”
He explained that the institute’s analysis found that the number of these cases, out of around 1.5 million vaccinations, was above average in the population without vaccination.
He said that initial talks with experts concluded: “It cannot be ruled out that the vaccine is responsible.”
He added: “However, the judgment has not yet been made.”
Germany’s decision to suspend the vaccine sparked a rapid domino effect in the bloc with France and Italy following suit within hours.
But later, both countries admitted the decision they had taken was merely political.
Nicola Magrini, director general of Italy’s medicines authority AIFA said on Tuesday: “We got to the point of a suspension because several European countries, including Germany and France, preferred to interrupt vaccinations … to put them on hold in order to carry out checks.
“The choice is a political one.”
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