Germany, France and Italy were among the countries to resume AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations Friday shortly after UK and EU regulators concluded the jab was safe and effective amid reports of blood clotting in some vaccinated individuals.
Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they will resume vaccinations next week, though Spain said it might exclude certain groups to minimize any danger. Countries with paused vaccination campaigns were hinging on a conclusion from regulators. A safety committee (PRAC) with Europe’s regulator concluded Thursday that AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective, with no ties to an overall increased risk of blood clots in vaccinated individuals. However, a definitive link to serious blood disorders could not be ruled out due to insufficient data.
The move paved the way for more than a dozen European countries, which had suspended use of the shot over the past week, to begin using it again.
Dr. Sabine Straus, chair of the EU safety committee, noted the vaccine is effective against COVID-19 disease, and likely reduces the risks of blood clotting events overall. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency also confirmed the vaccine was not linked to blood clots after a review of available data. Both agencies determined the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of potential side effects.
AstraZeneca said it would update product information to reflect a clot warning as recommended by Europe's regulator.
"Vaccine safety is paramount and we welcome the regulators’ decisions which affirm the overwhelming benefit of our vaccine in stopping the pandemic," Ann Taylor, chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, said in a statement posted Thursday. "We trust that, after the regulators’ careful decisions, vaccinations can once again resume across Europe."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.