Politics

EU unity shattered: Greece breaks rank to obliterate ban on AstraZeneca vaccine

EU comments on AstraZeneca ‘ill advised’ says Stephen Hammond

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Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hit out at the decision and said Greece had no intention to suspend the Oxford vaccine. He said “at the level of the European regulator there is no confusion whatsoever” – a stark contrast with the doom-mongering from Paris and Berlin.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has repeatedly said the Anglo-Swedish vaccine is safe to use.

Despite the scientists’ reassurance, more than a dozen EU countries suspended the jab on Monday after reports of cases of blood clots as one of the side effects.

The EMA is due to publish an update of its assessment of the jab today.

Mr Mitsotakis said the EU regulator “has been very, very clear in telling us that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine clearly outweigh the potential costs”.

In a swipe at those who decided to halt the jab, the Greek leader added: “Greece was one of the few countries that went against the trend and we are currently continuing with our AstraZeneca vaccination program.

“I don’t understand why decisions have to be taken at the level of individual member states. We have aligned ourselves fully with EMA recommendations.

“And until further notice we will continue with our AstraZeneca vaccination program.”

The EMA has said it has so far found no causal link between the vaccine and the incidents.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also said there was no proven link and people should not panic.

At least 13 EU member states including Germany, France, Italy have suspended use of the shot pending the outcome of EMA’s probe.

More than 45 million COVID shots by all manufacturers have been administered across the EU and the European Economic Area since vaccinations started almost three months ago.

The EMA is investigating reports of 30 cases of unusual blood disorders out of 5 million people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU.

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The EMA’s focus and primary concern is on cases of blood clots in the head, a rare condition that’s difficult to treat called cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT).

In Germany, seven people aged 20 to 50 have been diagnosed with CVT up to 16 days after vaccination as per Monday, according to the national vaccine authority Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI). Based on the known rate of CVT in the general population, the PEI would have expected one case in 1.6 million.

Britain has administered more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and reports of blood clots were no greater than would have occurred naturally. The UK’s medicine regulator has urged Britons to keep on getting their vaccines, including the AstraZeneca shot.

Canada has said health experts are sure all COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the country are safe, including AstraZeneca’s.

AstraZeneca said on Sunday a review of safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the United Kingdom and European Union with its vaccine had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

On Tuesday, both France and Italy admitted the decision to suspend the jab had been “political”, followed merely by Germany’s decision to hit pause on the vaccine.

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