EU regulator says AstraZeneca vaccine 'safe and effective'

Thursday, March 18

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine is "safe and effective".

The agency carried out a safety review of the vaccine after reports of blood clots in some people who were vaccinated.

"We still cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine," qualified EMA chief Emer Cooke at a press conference this afternoon.

The decision of the EMA comes at a time when European Union is facing a vaccine shortage.

A number of European Union countries including Ireland have chosen to suspend their rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine over unconfirmed reports of an increased rate of blood clots among recipients.

The World Health Organization said last week that countries should not stop using the vaccine.

Head of EMA Emer Cook said today that the regulator remained "firmly convinced" the benefit of continuing to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweighed the risks.

Cooke said this was not an "unexpected" situation when millions of people are being vaccinated, and thousands develop blood clots each year.

"Our role at the EMA is to evaluate these, to make sure that any suspected adverse reactions are rapidly investigated so we can figure out, is this a real side effect to the vaccine or is it a coincidence," she said.

The EMA could also issue an "additional warning" for the use of the vaccine, Cooke said.