THE EU has made a major U-turn on the suspension of the Oxford jab with its regulator today saying it's "safe and effective".
Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, said their "clear scientific conclusion" is that the vaccine is "safe and effective".
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She said: "Its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19, with the associated risks of death and hospitalisation, outweigh the possible risks.
"The committee also concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events, or blood clots."
More than a dozen EU nations have halted its use over unsubstantiated fears it may trigger blood clots.
Mrs Cooke added: "We are very much aware that some member states have paused vaccinations, waiting for EMA's outcome of a review.
"Given that thousands of people in the EU die every day – in fact over 2,500 were reported one day last week – it really was crucial for EMA to review rapidly and thoroughly all the available evidence, so we made this review our highest priority."
"We are delivering on that promise today and our responsibility is to come to a conclusion as to whether the benefits outweigh the risks of the vaccines so that countries can make an uniformed decision and increase trust int eh vaccine."
It comes as
- Boris Johnson will give a press conference tonight to soothe fears over AstraZeneca jab
- Lockdown could last LONGER as the Covid vaccine delay may spark a rise in cases, experts warn
- All adults WILL get a vaccine by July and the roadmap out of lockdown is still on course
- EU chief Ursula von der Leyen threatens to seize Covid vaccines from UK
She said the jab is recommended for use – but a link between a small number of "blood clotting disorders" and the vaccine can't be entirely ruled out, so the EMA has instructed it be added to the warning label.
France and Italy had already stated they would “promptly” start doling out doses once the immunisation is given the all-clear.
Cases are now on the rise across Europe with Poland and Bulgaria the latest nations to announce further lockdown measures.
It comes as NHS boss Simon Stevens was pictured getting the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab today. He grinned as he rolled up his sleeve and got his dose in Westminster Cathedral.
Boris Johnson will also receive the shot imminently in another vote of confidence in the UK-made vaccine.
The UK regulator, the MHRA, released a fresh statement on the issue today with the World Health Organisation set to follow suit tomorrow.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines, said: "We will still recommend that the vaccine is taken when you're offered the vaccine."
The MHRA said the UK had five reports of a specific brain blood clot in people who had had the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, though no causal link has been made with the jab, the medicines regulator has said.
They were men aged 19 to 59 who experienced a clot together with low blood platelet count. One of the five has since died.
It said the cases represented a less than one in a million chance of suffering this type of clot, while the risk of dying from Covid aged 40 to 49 was one in 1,000.
Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine "far outweigh its risk" and its use "should continue to save lives".
Addressing a WHO press briefing on Thursday, he said it was "routine to signal adverse events" but people should "have confidence" in the protection given by vaccines.
"The Covid-19 vaccination will not reduce death or illness from other causes," he said.
"As of now we do not know whether some or all of the conditions have been caused by the vaccine or by other coincidental factors.
"At this point in time, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh its risk and its use should continue to save lives."
Scientists have rushed to reassure people that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after 20 EU countries, including France, Germany and Spain, suspended its use over unproven concerns about blood clots.
England's deputy chief medical officer has said evidence suggests there is no increased risk of blood clots from the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that "vaccines don't save lives if they're in fridges" as he sought to reassure the public after a dozen European countries suspended the vaccine over isolated cases of blood clotting.
Appearing at a Downing Street press conference, he referred to comments by the EMA, which said there was "no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions".
The EU has blamed its shambolic vaccine programme’s problems on AZ not producing enough of the jabs.
Yet, despite countries questioning whether it is safe, Brussels is threatening to hoard millions more doses.
The move would delay Britain’s jabs roll-out, as many of our supplies come from factories on the continent.
A No10 spokesman said restrictions on vaccine supply would “endanger global efforts to fight the virus”.
It comes as a new study suggests the vaccines from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech may be more effective against the P1 Brazil variant of coronavirus than previously thought.
Research from Oxford University, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, measured the level of antibodies that can neutralise – or stop infection from – variants that are circulating in South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere.
It found that vaccines do not work as well against the variants as against the original strain of coronavirus, but that the P1 Brazilian variant may be less resistant to vaccine-induced antibodies than first feared.
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