Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe? 6 months ago

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?

In short, there's no evidence to suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe

The EU’s issues with AstraZeneca have reached new levels this week as the list of EU countries suspending its roll out grows. 

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Concerns over the vaccine causing blood clots have been cited as the reason for the suspension of the vaccine.

France, Germany, and Italy are the latest countries to join the growing list of EU nations halting the roll out of the jab.

However, AstraZeneca HQ, the European Medical Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have rejected these claims.

The WHO have made it clear there is no evidence that blood clots have been caused by the vaccine, and have advised against suspending roll outs.

Indeed, even Ireland's deputy chief medical officer, Ronan Glynn, has stated there is no material evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine is associated with blood clots.

However leaders, like President Emmanuel Macron of France, have said the suspension of the roll out was "taken out of precaution."

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This comes as the Covid-19 situation on the continent has started to deteriorate.

The bloc have been widely criticised for their slow and chaotic vaccination programme, and their issues with the AstraZeneca vaccine come in the midst of virus cases rising once again across EU nations - with fears of a deadly third wave growing.

This month, Italy's Covid-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 - making it the second European country to do so after the UK.

This backdrop makes the suspension of the vaccine's roll out even more bizarre.

However, it is not happening in a political vacuum.

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Last month, the EU lambasted AstraZeneca - claiming that they were not providing them with their fair share of the vaccine.

The row became so dramatic that the EU unilaterally triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol, introducing a hard border in Ireland on vaccine imports.

Not only was it triggered without permission of the UK government, but it was also done without the Irish government’s knowledge, too.

It became a diplomatic and political mess internationally - and the EU quickly backtracked on its position.

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EU countries like Germany and France then claimed that the vaccine was ineffective on over 65’s, and suspended roll out among that age group - something which AstraZeneca refuted, insisting there was no evidence for the claim.

The move was particularly strange in France, a country where vaccine hesitancy is dangerously high. 

Are the EU's new qualms with the AstraZeneca vaccine another chapter of the politicisation of the vaccine?

Or is it purely out of precaution.

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At this stage, it's unclear.

What is clear, however, is that the EU are playing a dangerous game - and are getting to a stage where they are promoting vaccine disinformation on an international scale.

Not only can their own citizens not afford it right now, as cases climb across the continent, the rest of the world can't either.

Promoting vaccine hesitancy at this critical moment of the roll out not only risks stoking doubt elsewhere, but it also provides anti-vaxxers with ammunition for their propaganda.

The EMA today stated they are "of the view that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risk of side effects."

They added: "The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population."

As is clear, taking the vaccine is a no-brainer; it's time for EU nations to stop playing politics with vaccines.