UK experts joined forces on Monday to defend the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after several countries decided to suspend its rollout over concern of possible side effects such as blood clots.
“Safety is absolutely paramount and we monitor this data very carefully. We have given 11 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to date and there’s no demonstrable difference between the blood clots in those that have been vaccinated from those in the general population,” Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told BBC broadcaster.
The expert said that on average, there are 3,000 blood clots a month in the general population, so the cases of thrombosis being reported were not necessarily caused by the vaccination.
“That’s because they occur naturally in the population,” Harnden added, stressing that both the EU and the UK medicines regulators, as well as the World Health Organization, have said that the vaccine developed by the UK-Swedish pharmaceutical and the University of Oxford is safe.
The director of the Oxford vaccine group, Andrew Pollard, also noted that no link has been found between the drug and the blood clots, claiming that in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe been given so far, there is no evidence that the vaccine is increasing a “blood clot phenomenon” among the people who have taken the jab.
“It’s absolutely critical that we don’t have a problem of not vaccinating people and have the balance of a huge risk – a known risk of Covid – against what appears so far from the data that we’ve got from the regulators – no signal of a problem,” the scientists said.
UK minister of State for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, also defended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, reminding people that it went through “very, very stringent testing” before it was authorized for use.
“The scientists tell us that all is well and that the incidence of these particular problems is no greater than in the population at large and these things occur naturally anyway,” the government official told Sky News broadcaster.
On Monday, the Netherlands became the latest country to temporarily suspend the application of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, following reports that several people have suffered from different types of thrombosis after receiving the jab.
Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Thailand had already taken the same precautionary measure, while in Italy, Spain and Austria some batches were suspended.