No causative link has been established between the shot and blood clots or severe bleeding.
On Thursday, the drug regulator of the European Union stated that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective for use in the population. Officials hope that this reassurance will alleviate the growing concern around the vaccine, due to findings that the shot may lead to potential rare side effects.
Anxiety has grown over the vaccine because of cases of blood clots and lowered levels of blood platelets, spurring many nations within the EU to stop its administration. Over a dozen countries so far have paused the use of AstraZeneca, including Italy, Spain, France, Denmark, and Norway.
The move has been touted as a comfort strategy, ensuring that the public knows governments are taking all concerns seriously.
“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization,” the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday. “This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place.”
The brief pause in the use of the vaccine comes at a time when Europe as a whole is struggling to contain a new wave of infections, threatening to roll back any progress that the union has made so far.
In Poland, more people are now on ventilators than at any other time during the pandemic, and Italy has once again reinstated lockdowns aiming to limit any outbreaks. In Paris, public hospitals are sounding alarms about the increasingly dire situation, stating that they are struggling to find enough beds in intensive care units.
Suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine could very literally cost many lives.
However, with the reassurance from the drug regulator, many countries have said that they will likely restart its use and add the vaccine back into its arsenal.