France, Italy call EU medicines regulator’s comments on AstraZeneca vaccine ‘encouraging’ | The Daily Star
06:36 AM, March 17, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:41 AM, March 17, 2021

France, Italy call EU medicines regulator’s comments on AstraZeneca vaccine ‘encouraging’

Comments by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the AstraZeneca vaccine are "encouraging", French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Tuesday.

"Today's preliminary statements from EMA are encouraging," they said in a statement released by Draghi's office after a phone call between the two leaders.

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The statement added that France and Italy would "promptly restart the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine" if it is cleared by the EU regulator, which is expected to announce a decision on Thursday.

In Italy's case, the suspension means around 200,000 fewer vaccinations this week, government sources said, expressing confidence that they could make up for the setback.

France, Italy, Germany and several other European Union countries have suspended the use of the Anglo-Swedish firm's vaccine out of concern over possible links to blood clot deaths.

The head of EMA, Emer Cooke, said Tuesday that the agency was "still firmly convinced that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death outweigh the risk of these side effects".

While millions of doses of the vaccine developed with Oxford University have been administered, small numbers of people have developed potentially fatal blood clots.

"At present there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions," the head of EMA added, echoing the World Health Organization and AstraZeneca.

Cooke noted that the regulator was "looking at adverse events associated with all vaccines".

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