European regulators close to verdict on AstraZeneca vaccine

Although Brussels has said the risks are justified, the rising incidence of blood clots has left officials with some serious choices

European regulators close to verdict on AstraZeneca vaccine

As News Front previously reported, the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been stopped in many European countries, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Norway and Denmark. The reason for this was that vaccinated people developed blood clots, which have repeatedly resulted in deaths.

The EU regulator believes that the benefits of the drug justify the risks. Brussels has so far refused to formally link the occurrence of blood clots to the use of AstraZeneca’s drug, but independent experts have long issued a disappointing verdict.

The hesitancy of the European Medicines Agency is understandable. The rejection of AstraZeneca’s drug would undermine the already problematic vaccination of the EU population. On the other hand, it forces national governments to deal with the issue themselves.

“Clearly there is a link”, –  said Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the European regulator, in a commentary for il Messaggero.

The agency is quick to point out that Cavaleri’s statement is his personal opinion. The official verdict, in turn, will be presented on 7 or 8 April. However, Cavaleri’s comment demonstrated a shift towards scepticism in Brussels, as until recently there had been calls for the Anglo-Swedish conglomerate not to stop using the drug.

Cavaleri now points out that the risks can only be justified in individual cases. In particular, he pointed out that Norway, which was less affected by the pandemic, might well ban the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

“Let us not forget that the severity of COVID varies from country to country: in Italy 500 people still die every day, in Norway almost none”, –  the official said. – “These factors justify different approaches”.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that it is Europe that is the most sceptical about vaccines. This fact alone means that, despite Brussels’ decision, countries will methodically limit the use of the problematic drug.

But refusal means a shortage, especially since the European Union is having supply problems even now. Therefore, the EU is actively discussing the supply of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which has already proved its effectiveness not only in trials, but also in practice.

It is worth noting that Hungary is already actively using the drug, while German and Austrian authorities are considering supplies. Despite the ostensible scepticism, a dramatic turnaround awaited the EU with the appointment of Mario Draghi as prime minister of Italy. The former head of the European Central Bank, praised in Brussels for saving the euro from its worst crisis several years ago, has taken a strong stance on vaccines to accelerate the pace of vaccination and production in Europe. He said the EU should buy more vaccines and expand production.

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