European suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine WILL cause Covid deaths, experts warn

Europe’s suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine will erode public confidence in the jab and lead to more coronavirus deaths, experts warned today.

UK scientists said the decision to withhold the British-made jab on the continent due to an extremely rare risk of blood clots in young women would deprive vulnerable people of life-saving protection against the virus.   

The EU is currently battling a third wave of Covid which has sent several countries back into national lockdowns and is struggling to get its vaccination programme up to speed.  

Germany last night became the latest country to pause its rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in people under the age of 60 after 31 vaccinated people suffered brain clots.

AstraZeneca still maintains the clots are not occurring any more frequently than they would in the general population, a claim which has been echoed repeatedly by medical regulators in the UK, EU and World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, a UK Government minister today pleaded with Britons to keep coming for the vaccine amid fears that suspensions on the continent will fuel vaccine hesitancy at home.

Dr Peter English, former chair of the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said: ‘Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, with case numbers rising alarmingly, any risk from vaccination has to be set against the risk of disease. 

‘A decision may be thought of as “precautionary”; but if people are not vaccinated, because use of the vaccine is suspended, or because of a drop in confidence in the vaccine caused by the decision, some of them will get ill from Covid-19; and some of them will die. Any decision to withhold the vaccine will directly cause excess, avoidable Covid-19 deaths.’

He added: ‘There is no evidence that these cases [of blood clots] are caused by vaccination, rather than simply associated with it, in people who would have had such conditions anyway. 

Europe's suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine will erode public confidence in the jab and lead to more coronavirus deaths, experts warned today

Europe's suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine will erode public confidence in the jab and lead to more coronavirus deaths, experts warned today

Europe’s suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine will erode public confidence in the jab and lead to more coronavirus deaths, experts warned today 

This chart shows how Britain is still racing ahead of the EU in vaccinating its population against Covid-19, more than three months after the continent started its jab programme

This chart shows how Britain is still racing ahead of the EU in vaccinating its population against Covid-19, more than three months after the continent started its jab programme

This chart shows how Britain is still racing ahead of the EU in vaccinating its population against Covid-19, more than three months after the continent started its jab programme  

Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today pleaded with Britons to keep coming for the vaccine amid fears that suspensions on the continent will fuel vaccine hesitancy at home

Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today pleaded with Britons to keep coming for the vaccine amid fears that suspensions on the continent will fuel vaccine hesitancy at home

Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today pleaded with Britons to keep coming for the vaccine amid fears that suspensions on the continent will fuel vaccine hesitancy at home

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said today he was ‘100 per cent confident’ in the British-made jab, adding that ‘study after study’ had shown it is safe and is saving thousands of lives. 

He told Sky News: ‘People should continue to go forward, get the vaccine, I certainly will when my time comes, it is a safe vaccine and the UK’s vaccine rollout is saving people’s lives right across the country every day.’

His plea comes after Germany announced last night it was pausing its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 60 because of a risk of rare blood clots.

The country’s medical regulator found 31 cases of an extremely uncommon clot in the brain among almost 2.7 million Germans who had received the AZ vaccine.

Earlier in the week Canada also halted its use in people under the age of 55 over the same clotting fears.

AstraZeneca still maintains the clots are not occurring any more frequently than they would in the general population, a claim which has been echoed repeatedly by medical regulators in the UK and EU. 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) both concluded that the benefits of the vaccine far outweighed the risks.  

WHAT NEW EVIDENCE PROMPTED GERMANY’S U-TURN ON ASTRAZENECA’S JAB? 

German health chiefs based their vaccine ban on 31 reports of a rare type of brain blood clot called cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT).

Twenty-nine of the cases have been in women and two in men, all of them under the age of 65. 

These clots are the same as the handful of cases that caused widespread European suspensions of the jab earlier this month and had a link to the vaccine ruled out by European regulators.

The Germans are not known to have any more evidence to suggest that the vaccine might be causing the clots, but appear to have been spooked by the cases appearing. 

Cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT) is an extremely rare type of blood clot in the brain.

It occurs when the vein that drains blood from the brain is blocked by a blood clot, resulting in potentially deadly bleeding or a stroke.  

Symptoms can quickly deteriorate from a headache, blurred vision and faintness to complete loss of control over movement and seizures. 

John Hopkins University estimates it affects five in a million people in the US every year, which would suggest 330 patients in Britain suffer from the condition annually.

According to the university, it can affect patients with low blood pressure, cancer, vascular diseases and those prone to blood clotting. Head injuries can also trigger the condition. 

Britain’s regulator said CSVT is so rare they aren’t even sure how common it is in the general population.

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