EU ‘exaggerating’ AstraZeneca concerns because they’re losing to UK in jabs race – MEP

AstraZeneca: Expert discusses 'risk' with jab suspensions

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France, Italy, Spain and Germany are among those to halt the use of the Oxford-produced jab over unsubstantiated fears it causes blood clots. There are now 16 member states banning the use of the Covid vaccine despite EU regulators saying the benefits of the jab “outweigh the risks of side effects”. Italian MEP Paolo Borchia said: “The EU’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis involving the centralisation of the vaccine negotiations and drawing up the final contracts has been very damaging.

“The cherry on top is the unmitigated disaster that the attempted EU hampering of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been.

“I think that they’re exaggerating the AstraZeneca story – the biggest issue is that the EU is behind the UK and US in the vaccination campaign.

“Most of the rest is huffing and puffing as people want results and freedom, not podium statements in Brussels.”

The head of Italy’s medicines watchdog has branded the decision to stop using AstraZeneca a “political one”.

Nicola Magrini, director general of AIFA, said: “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.”

The EU’s vaccine rollout has been slow after its states backed a joint buy-up scheme led by the European Commission.

The bloc has so far administered jabs to just 11 percent of its population, a total of 50.8 million doses.

In contrast, Britain has dished out vaccines to 38.39 percent of adults, a total of 26 million.

And United States is just behind having given out more than 100 million jabs, with one in three adults having received at least one dose.

A number of countries, including Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Romania, Latvia, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Bulgaria, have all announced suspensions of the AstraZeneca jab.

They moved after reports of a small number of blood clots among people who had received the jab.

It means EU member states are now sitting on a mountain of AstraZeneca vaccines while the bloc’s jabs rollout flounders.

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Capitals have almost eight million doses of the Oxford jab and have administered only around half of the shots delivered by the Anglo-Swedish firm.

The EMA is due to publish further analysis on the reports of blood clots today but says the jab is safe.

The EU regulator said: “While its investigation is ongoing, the EMA currently remains of the view that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”

Experts have criticised EU countries for suspending use of the jab despite evidence suggesting the move is unjustified.

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Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, said: “These pauses, I don’t think you can consider these as being cautious.

“They actually could be doing more harm than good. If it means there is a delay in rolling out the vaccine to people who would otherwise have a vaccine, then that will cause harm.

“I’ve looked at AstraZeneca reports and they’ve said that 17 million jabs across the EU and the UK had been administered, and they’ve had about 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism reported.”

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