A senior official at the European Medicines Agency said there is a causal link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and rare blood clots, but the link is unclear and the benefits of taking the vaccine always outweigh the risks of contracting Covid-19, reassures the WHO.
Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, told Roman newspaper Il Messaggero on Tuesday that the European Union’s medicines regulator was preparing to make a more definitive statement on the topic this week.
When asked about Cavaleri’s comments, the EMA press office said his assessment “had not yet reached a conclusion and that the review is currently underway ”. He said he plans a press conference as soon as the review is finalized, possibly Wednesday or Thursday.
Based on the evidence to date, Cavaleri said there is a clear association between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the dozens of rare blood clots that have been reported worldwide among the tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines that have been administered.
“It is increasingly difficult to say that there is no cause and effect relationship between AstraZeneca vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with low platelet count”, Cavaleri said.
The pharmaceutical company and the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine, have announced that they are suspending testing of their injections in children while UK regulators investigate the potential link of the blood clot in adults.
“Although there are no safety concerns in the pediatric clinical trial, we are awaiting further information” from the UK regulator, an Oxford spokesperson said in a statement.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday reiterated its support for the use of AstraZeneca, stressing that the benefits of the vaccine continue to far outweigh its risks.
“These benefits are really very important in terms of reducing mortality among the populations that are vaccinated”, underlined, Rogerio Pinto de Sa Gaspar, WHO director in charge of regulation, during a press briefing devoted to the World Health Day, estimating that the experts as the media had “too” tendency to put focus on risks alone.
In March, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended the use of AstraZeneca due to the problem of blood clots.
Most EU countries restarted on March 19 – some with age restrictions – after the EMA said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of not vaccinating people against COVID- 19. At the time, the EMA recommended that the vaccine insert be updated with information on rare clots.