LONDON (AP) – The world is awaiting the decision of Europe’s top medical regulator to investigate whether there is evidence that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is linked to a small amount of blood tissue found in people across the continent.
The expert commission of the European Medicines Agency is going to publish the results of the investigation late on Thursday.
Earlier this week, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy, stopped immunizing with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following reports of unusual blood clots in 17 million people in Europe who received at least one dose. Both the EMA and the World Health Organization have stated that there is currently no evidence that the vaccine is responsible, that the benefits of immunization outweigh the potential small risk of vaccination. AstraZeneca said that after careful study of its COVID-19 immunization data, it found no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots in any country.
On Tuesday, EMA CEO Emer Cook said the agency’s priority was vaccine safety, and that it would discuss issues, including whether additional warnings for the AstraZeneca vaccine needed to be added. He noted that COVID-19 continues to be borne daily by the continent, and said that vaccines could play a key role in stopping its spread.
“We are concerned that this could affect vaccine confidence,” he said. “But our job is to make sure that the products we authorize are safe, that European citizens can trust us.”
The AstraZeneca vaccination shutdown comes at a time when COVID-19 is making a big leap across the continent as Britain waits for major delays in vaccine deliveries. Tens of thousands of new daily incidents prompted new blockades in Italy, led to an increase in hospitalizations in France, and German officials announced that the third wave of COVID-19 had begun.
At a time when vaccines are becoming more widespread, scientists expect serious health problems and deaths simply because tens of millions of people are being recruited. It can be difficult to determine if the vaccine is to blame, as most people who get the vaccine are at risk for coronavirus. But since there are no long-term data on any of the COVID-19 vaccines, any possible signs of anxiety should be carefully considered.
Follow the AP epidemic coverage: