EU has blood on its hands: AstraZeneca row has cost ‘thousands of lives’, says expert

EU: 'Not enough vaccines to fight a third wave' says minister

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Over the past few weeks, more than a dozen EU member states were quick to ban the AstraZeneca vaccine over a few reports of blood clots affecting patients. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) were quick to launch an investigation into the matter, and last night announced the vaccine is “safe and effective”. Experts have hit out at the bloc for halting AstraZeneca doses and said the move was likely to “translate into many, many lives lost due to Covid”.

A number of EU heavyweights led the charge against the Anglo-Swedish jab, including Germany, France and Italy.

Other nations that called a halt to the jab include Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Ireland and Cyprus.

However, since Europe’s regulator said the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, most states have u-turned and started to roll out the jab once more.

Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the temporary ban on one of the world’s leading Covid vaccines will have knock-on effects.

He told Times Radio: “Because of this delay, and because of the uncertainty now of the vaccine in some people’s minds, I think it will probably run to thousands of lives that have been lost.”

Germany immunologist Carsten Watzl said Covid-deaths will likely rise after tens of thousands of vaccine appointments were missed in recent weeks.

She urged people to accept doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, rather than wait for the Pfizer jab to become available.

Reports from Italy show the country had to scrap administering 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab.

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The debacle has also led Europeans to lose confidence in the vaccine, with a survey showing 49 percent of Italians saying they had their confidence in vaccines shaken.

Ireland saw 30,000 people have their vaccinations delayed due to the temporary ban.

The country is yet to give the jab the go-ahead.

Other countries, including Norway, Denmark and Sweden, are also yet to resume administering the AstraZeneca jab.

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They are waiting for their own authorities to determine the vaccine is safe for use.

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”.

He added: “At this point in time, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh its risk and its use should continue to save lives.”

EU states banned the jab after a handful of cases emerged of blood clots developing in patients after the AstraZeneca vaccine was administered.

AstraZeneca said about 17 million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases of blood clots reported as of last week.

England’s deputy chief medical officer 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.

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