AstraZeneca: Jonathan Van Tam insists vaccine is 'beneficial'
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Several EU countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain have all halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine – which was developed with Oxford University – over concerns the jab increases the number of blood clots after being administered to patients.
While member states have said the decision is not political, even Remainers are hitting back at the bloc over its handling of the vaccine rollout.
Blackadder star and Time Team presenter Tony Robinson – who has been a vocal critic of Brexit – has now lashed out at the EU’s “tardy” vaccine rollout.
Mr Robinson tweeted: “I still believe our leaving the EU will prove a disaster, but its tardy approach to vaccination, and its vindictive and totally unnecessary treatment of AstraZeneca, will confirm many Brexit voters in their belief that the EU is a ‘bad thing’- and I find it hard to blame them.”
Mr Robinson’s comments come after former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind hit back at EU bosses over the decision to halt the vaccine rollout.
Mr Rifkind – who voted to remain in the 2016 referendum – said: “The result of this suspension in France and in sixteen, seventeen other countries are that tens of thousands of their own citizens who by now would have been vaccinated have had their vaccinations postponed.
“Some of them even if the government’s change their policy will have become very nervous.
“Now you say we can use AstraZeneca and a few days ago you were saying you shouldn’t, so the problem with people resisting vaccination will become more serious.
“The whole thing is a very very foolish mess and on that could have easily been avoided.”
Earlier this week, Germany’s health ministry announced it would halt administering the vaccine with immediate effect.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said: “The background to this decision follows new reports of cases of cerebral vein thrombosis connected with an AstraZeneca vaccination.
“In light of these newly reported cases, the Paul Ehrlich Institute today reevaluated the situation and recommended a suspension of vaccinations and further analysis.”
Mr Spahn reassured the decision was “not political” and said they did not take the decision lightly.
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Following Germany’s decision, Emmanual Macron also said France will be suspending the vaccine following advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Mr Macron said: “We have a simple guide, to be informed by science and the competent health authorities and to do it as part of a European strategy.”
Other EU countries such as Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Latvia, Austria, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Bulgaria also halted the jab.
Iceland and Norway, who are both not members of the EU but have joined the European Economic Area (EEA), have also halted the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Around 17 million people have received the vaccine in the EU and the UK and fewer than 40 cases of blood clots have been reported as of last week.
To add to the ongoing bitter row, the EU threatened to block deliveries of the Pfizer Covid vaccine to the UK – despite raw materials for the jab being made in Britain.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the club of nations is facing “the crisis of this century” amid a chronic shortage of vaccines on the continent.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Ms von der Leyen said: “We will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.”
The EU rate of vaccine doses administered per 100 people stands at 11.81, according to a tracker on the Our World In Data website.
This is in stark contrast to the UK’s rate of 39.04 and 33.11 in the US.
As of Tuesday, the UK had given 25.2 million people the first dose of the vaccine.
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