A World Health Organisation expert said that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab is an excellent vaccine and there is ‘no reason not to use it.' The vaccine is being checked by scientists after some countries paused the distribution of it over a small number of reports of blood clots.
However, spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a Geneva briefing no causal relationship had been established between the shot and the health problems reported, calling the pause in use "a precautionary measure".
"All that we're looking at is what we always look at: any safety signal must be investigated. "It is very important we are hearing safety signals because if we were not hearing about safety signals, that would suggest there is not enough review and vigilance," she said.
Italy also followed Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in banning jabs from one particular batch of one million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, which was sent to 17 countries, after reports of death. Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria and now Thailand have said they were temporarily halting all Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations to investigate reports of blood clots among people who have had the jab.
However, officials in Germany and France have said the vaccine was safe and that it will continue to be used. AstraZeneca - which produced the vaccine with Oxford University - has insisted there is no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also backed the jab's safety and said there have been only 30 reports of blood clots among close to five million people given the vaccine across Europe. Earlier this week, the EMA reported that one person in Austria was diagnosed with blood clots and died 10 days after vaccination, but stressed there is "currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions".
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: "Vaccine safety is critically important. The public should have confidence that both vaccines used in the UK vaccination programme are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease, including the prevention of blood clots caused by covid-19."