Europe's top drug agency backs use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following suspension in several countries
Brussels [Belgium], After several European countries suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine over blood clot concerns, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday (local time) said regulators remain confident in the safety of the vaccine.
Emer Cooke, executive director of Europe's top drug agency, said during a press conference the agency remains "firmly convinced" the benefits of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects, reported The Hill.
"At present, there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions. They have not come up in clinical trials and they're not listed as known or expected side events," Cooke said.
An emergency meeting will be held between a safety committee of experts from across the European Union and beyond on Thursday to discuss and release the findings of its investigation into reports of rare but dangerous blood clots in the brain, The Hill reported.
Cooke further said that the overall number of events "seemed not to be higher" in vaccinated people than in the general population.
As of March 10, the EMA had received 30 reports of blood clotting events from about 5 million vaccinated people. The safety committee was also looking at "serious thromboembolic events from the UK, she said.
Meanwhile, Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday joined a growing number of countries that have suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine pending investigation in the formation of blood clots post-vaccination.
Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway have also banned the use of the vaccine.
The suspensions go against the advice of the World Health Organization, the EMA, and the pharmaceutical giant itself, all of whom have said there is no evidence of a link with clotting and that rollouts should continue while the reports are investigated.
"As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus," the WHO said in a statement to CNN.
Over 11 million have been vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the AstraZeneca vaccine. (ANI)