Experts probing links between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and blood clots on March 31 said that there is “no evidence” that would support restricting the use of the vaccine in any population. However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also said that its safety committee expected to issue an “updated recommendation” on the controversial vaccine after its monthly meeting next week. The statement by EMA comes after Germany had advised against using the AstraZeneca vaccine jab for younger people after rare reports of clotting.
On Tuesday, Germany said that the vaccine shots should not routinely be given to people under 60 because of a rise in reported cases of unusual blood clots in the days after vaccination. The German government followed the recommendation and said that AstraZeneca’s vaccine would be prioritized for people age 60 and older, although an exception can be made in consultation with doctors. But the following day, the EMA said that at present the review has not identified any specific risk factors, such as age, gender or a previous medical history of clotting disorders, for these very rare events.
EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said, “According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population”.
She informed that the agency’s assessment was based on 62 cases of unusual blood clots, including 14 deaths, worldwide reported to EMA by March 22. She said that those figures included a “significant” number of the cases reported from Germany, but not all. Further, Cooke said the EMA will include the Germany cases in its review "and they will be they will form part of the ongoing evaluation that the committee is undertaking, as will any additional cases that are reported from other countries and regions”.
Meanwhile, around 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in Germany so far. AstraZeneca had said tens of millions of people worldwide have received its vaccines and noted that the EU regulator and the World Health Organization concluded that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks. Among those who will likely be eligible for the shot soon is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The 66-year-old said Tuesday's decision was important for ensuring public trust in the vaccine campaign and that she would accept the shot made by the British-Swedish company. “When it's my turn I'll allow myself to be vaccinated, including with AstraZeneca,” Merkel said.