THE ASTRAZENECA coronavirus vaccine has been suspended for use in twenty countries amid blood clot fears.
In the UK over 24.8 million people have received their first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca offering, with 1.6 million having had a second.
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Around 11 million Brits have received a dose of the AstraZeneca jab.
Countries such as Germany, France and Italy have all banned the jabs, along with a host of other European countries.
But will the UK join its European counterparts in temporarily pausing the rollout of the jab?
WHERE IS THE JAB SUSPENDED?
France, Germany and Italy followed smaller EU nations such as Ireland and Estonia is banning the jab after around 40 patients had blood clots.
AstraZeneca said the rate was actually LOWER than would be expected in the general population.
Today the European Medicines Agency confirmed there is “no indication” the AstraZeneca jab causes blood clots.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) urged countries to not pause the rollout of the jabs.
Both scientists and government ministers in the UK have defended the vaccine, so it's unlikely that the rollout will be paused in the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the vaccine and said it was both safe and effective.
The PM's spokesman said: "The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine remains both safe and effective.
"There is no evidence of any kind casual link between blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"Blood clots occur naturally and there is no evidence they are any more likely to occur following vaccination."
Policing minister Kit Malthouse also backed the jab, and said he will happily take it when his turn comes to be vaccinated in the next few weeks.
He said: "The scientists tell us that all is well, that the incidence of these particular problems is no greater than you would except on the population at large, and these things naturally occur anyway.
"The vaccine has been through very stringent testing before it was authorised for use.
"I'm hoping to be called for a vaccine in the next couple of weeks myself and if it's Astra-Zeneca I will happily take it in my arm."
Dominic Raab has also defended the jab today, saying there were "no reasonable grounds" for them to suspend the use of the jab.
BACKED BY SCIENCE
Scientists have also backed the jab and on today said it was likely that the blood clots were caused by Covid infections, rather than the vaccine.
Prof Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine explained that the problems seen in blood clots are likely to be from the virus itself – rather than the vaccine designed to prevent serious infection from the virus.
He said: “It still remains the case that a very likely explanation of at least some of the clotting disorders seen are a result of Covid-19 rather than the vaccine."
The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency who have worked tirelessly in the UK to get vaccine approved both safely and effectively in record timing has also urged people to continue to attend their jab appointments.
They also continuously monitor jabs once they begin to be rolled out across the country.
Each week it publishes a "yellow card summary", which details any safety investigations it is undertaking.
It states that for both vaccines, the overwhelming majority of reports relate to injection-site reactions (sore arm for example) and generalised symptoms such as ‘flu-like’ illness, headache, chills, fatigue (tiredness), nausea (feeling sick), fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles, and rapid heartbeat.
It added: "Generally, these happen shortly after the vaccination and are not associated with more serious or lasting illness."
Dr Phil Bryan, MHRA Vaccines Safety Lead said this week that the group is closely reviewing reports but the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.
He added: "Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.
"We are working closely with international counterparts in understanding the global safety experience of Covid-19 vaccines and on the rapid sharing of safety data and reports."
AstraZeneca have said the jab is "safe" after it tested 17 million doses of the vaccine and found "no link to higher blood clot risk".
For now, it seems the scientific community is behind the jab which first started being rolled out on January 4 this year.
The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is mainly being produced in the UK, though other sites across Europe are being used to manufacture the first doses of the jab.
Ian McCubbin, manufacturing lead for the UK's Vaccine Taskforce said while the initial supply had come from the Netherlands and Germany after this the supply chain would be completely UK based.
The jab takes a different approach to the Pfizer vaccine, and is made from a weakened version of the adenovirus (the common cold) from chimpanzees.
After being injected into a patient, the vaccine prompts the immune system to develop antibodies which fight Covid-19.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to be safe, and can provoke an immune response in people of all ages, including the elderly.
A study release by Public Health England (PHE) at the start of this month, revealed that a single dose of either vaccine can reduce the risk of hospitalisation in the over 80s by 80 per cent.
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