BERLIN—Germany, France and Italy joined a group of smaller European countries that have temporarily stopped administering Covid-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca PLC, saying the move was precautionary amid a small number of cases of blood clotting reported on the continent.
Denmark last week said it had paused AstraZeneca shots for two weeks following reports of blood clotting, and several other European countries quickly followed suit, saying they were doing so out of an abundance of caution. Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands are among countries that have paused vaccinating with AstraZeneca’s shot.
Health regulators in the U.K. and Europe, along with AstraZeneca and its vaccine development partners at the University of Oxford, say there is no known connection between severe clotting and the shot. AstraZeneca has said the number of cases of blood clotting among the roughly 17 million people in the European Union and U.K. who have received the shot is lower than for the general population.
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Europe’s medicines regulator said last week it was looking into around 30 reported cases of severe clotting, out of around five million people who have received the shot in the bloc. Last week, the regulator, the European Medicines Agency, said the “vaccine’s benefits currently still outweigh risks” and has continued recommending its use. The agency said most side effects are mild or moderate. Clinical trials didn’t raise flags about blood clotting as a risk.
The temporary halt to the AstraZeneca shots is another major setback in a wider vaccine rollout in Europe hamstrung by supply shortages and other hurdles at the same time as the continent wrestles with rising Covid-19 cases. Europe’s vaccination rates are far lower than in the U.S. and the U.K., where Covid-19 cases have stabilized or are falling.
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