British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday defended the safety of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after several European countries halted its rollout over blood clot fears.
Germany, Italy and France on Monday joined others in suspending the vaccine, dealing a potential blow to the global immunisation campaign against a disease that has killed more than 2.6 million people.
However, the World Health Organization, AstraZeneca, and the European Medicines Agency have insisted the shot is safe, and that there is no link between it and reported blood clots.
The British leader on Tuesday echoed assurances that the jab was not harmful.
“That vaccine is safe and works extremely well,” Johnson wrote in The Times newspaper.
“It is being made in multiple places from India to the US, as well as Britain, and it is being used around the world,” he added.
Fears have grown in some countries over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine after several cases of blood clots or brain haemorrhages in people after receiving the inoculation, with a small number of deaths reported.
But AstraZeneca and medical experts in Britain have said there is no evidence of clots being caused by the jab or that they are occurring in greater numbers or frequency than in the general population.
The vaccine was developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford in Britain, where more than 11 million doses have been administered, without any major problems reported.
On Monday, Johnson told reporters that Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is “one of the toughest and most experienced regulators in the world”.
“They see no reason at all to discontinue the vaccination programme… for either of the vaccines that we’re currently using,” he said.
“They believe that they are highly effective in driving down not just hospitalisation but also serious disease and mortality.
“We continue to be very confident about the programme and it’s great to see it being rolled out at such speed across the UK.”