Amid concerns over “unusual side-effects” like blood clotting in people, European nations including Germany, Italy and France have temporarily suspended the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
This, despite insistence by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the vaccine is safe for use.
Apart from the three European Union nations, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Latvia have also temporarily halted the vaccine rollout. Earlier countries like Norway, Italy, Romania, Austria, Denmark and Iceland imposed bans on the vaccine over similar concerns.
Closer home, Indonesia has also delayed the rollout of the COVID vaccine.
The WHO, however, has asked countries using the vaccine not to panic and continue its usage.
“We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca,” WHO’s chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said, adding that no connection has been found so far between the vaccine and cases of blood clotting in several individuals who were administered shots.
An expert panel of WHO is slated to meet on Tuesday to discuss the current problem.
The EMA, which has scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue, on Thursday said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its side effects.
“The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19 with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects,” it said in a statement on Monday.