The decision to suspend the launch of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab could be a “disaster” for the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in Europe, a British expert warned.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, issued the warning after several European nations stopped introducing the vaccine.
These are unconfirmed reports linking the vaccine to blood clots, which senior health officials have dismissed as an overreaction.
The vaccine plays a key role in the UK vaccination program.
The professor was asked what he would say to those in the UK who were booked to receive an Oxford push.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program, “I really wouldn’t be worried right now.”
“I think it is very clear that the benefits of vaccination right now outweigh the potential concerns about this rather rare type of blood clot.
“Statistically speaking, it is a completely one-sided argument that we have to vaccinate.
“I think it is a catastrophe for vaccination in Europe, which in some countries is already on somewhat unsafe ground.”
He was also asked why he thought the rollout pause was so widespread – and replied, “I think the committees are probably afraid not to make this decision because they could be found guilty in any way if they did don’t, but actually these are rare occurrences. “
Spain, Italy, Germany and France are among the countries that have suspended the introduction of the vaccine while awaiting an investigation by the European Medicines Agency.
It should report back by Thursday.
The World Health Organization and the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency have stated that the shock is safe.
The Foreign Secretary has also urged the British to continue to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine offer.
Dominic Raab said it was “crystal clear” that the shot was safe.
Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: “Different countries have different approaches, but I can tell you very clearly that the UK regulator, the European EU regulator and WHO all say the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and people keep using it should take. “
He added: “It is certain that people should get the vaccine and I think it has been made very clear by both UK regulator MHRA and UK regulator MHRA that the risk of taking the vaccine is no higher than, for example, blood clots than the population as a whole.
“There is no additional risk to the evidence we saw, so they approved the vaccine and took no further action.
“We respect the process and procedures some other countries may have to go through, but the vaccine is safe and people should definitely keep taking it and protecting themselves, their friends and family.”