The benefits of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks after several countries discontinued use over blood clot concerns, the European Medicines Watchdog said Tuesday.
Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said there was no evidence that the blood clot incidents, which he described as “very rare,” were caused by the vaccine, but experts assessed this possibility.
Confidence in the safety of the vaccines is paramount and the agency is conducting a case-by-case assessment, she said.
“The benefits still outweigh the risks, but this is a serious problem and requires serious and detailed scientific assessment. We’re involved in that at the moment, ”Cooke said at a press conference.
Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
The results of its findings would be discussed during an EMA review Thursday, after which the results would be released, Cooke said.
Sweden and Latvia suspended use of the vaccine on Tuesday, engaging more than a dozen European countries since reports of thromboembolism in humans were first published after the AstraZeneca shot.
Germany, France and Italy interrupted vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, thus messing up Europe’s already difficult vaccination campaign.
Denmark and Norway fired the shot last week after reporting isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts. Iceland and Bulgaria followed suit, and Ireland and the Netherlands announced suspensions on Sunday.
The World Health Organization approved the emergency vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University last month.
The WHO said Monday that “there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine” and advised that vaccination campaigns should continue while the clotting problems are investigated.
Aside from the EMA and WHO, there is no evidence that the vaccine carries an increased risk of blood clots, AstraZeneca says. There have been 37 reports of blood clots among the more than 17 million people who received the vaccine across the European Union and the UK.
Experts say without a higher burden of proof, the suspensions could ultimately lead to future outbreaks – especially as they come at a precarious time for Europe as the pandemic is when cases pick up again.