Spain, Germany, France and Italy became the latest European countries to temporarily halt the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine over a small number of blood clots concern, as the third wave of infections looms over the continent.
Spain will stop the vaccine for two weeks, CNN reported citing the country’s Health Minister Carolina Darias. In a nationally televised news conference on Monday, Darias said that it was a temporary and precautionary suspension until the risks can be evaluated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Meanwhile, German health minister Jens Spahn said Monday that the country would pause inoculations as a precaution after some cases of blood clots were reported in people post-vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark and Norway.
France and Italy also halted their rollouts of the vaccine Monday, pending review by the EU’s medicines regulator, the EMA, although the body later reiterated its advice that countries stick to the rollout, reported CNN.
“We have decided to suspend the use of AstraZeneca as a precautionary measure and are hoping to resume it quickly if the EMA’s allows it,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference on Monday.
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.
The EMA also asked countries to continue their rollouts and said that the benefits of vaccinations outweigh any potential risks.
Several European countries, including Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway, halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after Austria said it was investigating the death of a vaccinated woman from multiple thromboses, reported Sputnik. Over 11 million have been vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the AstraZeneca vaccine.