A health care work presents a vial with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Stuttgart, southern Germany on March 19, 2021
A health care work presents a vial with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Stuttgart, southern Germany on March 19, 2021
AFP Photo

Germany, France and several other European Union countries have resumed the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. This comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not linked to an overall increase in the risk of blood clots and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

"Our scientific position is that this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against COVID-19," said the head of the EMA, Emer Cooke. She added, "If it were me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow." However, she said the agency "cannot rule out definitively a link" between the rare types of blood clots and the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Germany has resumed the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine. Authorities in Berlin said two large vaccination centers that offer the AstraZeneca shot to people in the German capital will reopen on Friday, and people whose appointments were cancelled this week will be able to get the vaccine over the weekend without making a new one. The suspension of the AstraZeneca shot further slowed Germany's already sluggish vaccine campaign this week. So far, about 10 million doses have been administered in the country, with 8.4% of the population receiving at least one shot and 3.7% getting both doses.

In France too, the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine resumed on Friday, but it will be given only to people aged 55 and older. "Given the data provided by the EMA, it is the National Authority for Health's (HAS) belief that vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine can resume immediately," said the French regulator in a statement. "However, the EMA has identified a possible increased risk of (thrombosis) in people under 55 years old. The HAS recommends using the AstraZeneca vaccine at this stage only for people aged 55 and over, who represent the majority of priority people."

Besides, Italy, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Slovenia are also likely to move forward with AstraZeneca's vaccine.

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