EU Can Continue Using AstraZeneca Vaccine After Agency Determines It Is 'Safe and Effective'

European nations can now resume administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is affiliated with the European Union, announced its investigation findings.

"The committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion. This is a safe and effective vaccine," EMA executive director Emer Cooke said. "Its benefits in protecting people from COVID-19 with the associated risks of deaths and hospitalizations outweigh the possible risks."

During the press conference on Thursday, Cooke addressed the reported blood clots and said that the committee cannot yet rule out a link between the cases and the vaccine.

"What the committee has therefore recommended is awareness of these possible risks. Making sure that they're included in the product information," she said. "Drawing attention to these possible conditions and providing information to health care professionals and vaccinated people will help to spot and mitigate any possible side effects."

Across Europe, there have only been 17 reported cases of blood clots among the 17 million people in Europe who have received the vaccine.

The reports from the EMA's safety committee come shortly after numerous European nations suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of blood clots. AstraZeneca and the World Health Organization (WHO) previously said that there was no indication that the COVID-19 vaccine was the main cause of the reported blood clots.

AstraZeneca Vaccine
A health worker holds a vial of Covishield, AstraZeneca's Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine made by India's Serum Institute, at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16. Punit PARANJPE/Getty

"A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," AstraZeneca wrote in a press release on March 14.

Similarly, the WHO issued a statement Wednesday in which it said: "At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue."

Prior to the announcement by the EMA, the U.K,'s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that people should continue to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In its announcement, the medicine regulator stated that cases of blood clots have been reported in "less than 1 in a million people vaccinated so far in the UK, and can also occur naturally—a causal association with the vaccine has not been established."

Dr. June Rain, the chief executive of the MHRA, said: "Our thorough and careful review, alongside the critical assessment of leading, independent scientists, shows that there is no evidence that that blood clots in veins is occurring more than would be expected in the absence of vaccination, for either vaccine."

Amid the EU medicine agency's announcement on Thursday, cases of the novel coronavirus have started to surge again in a number of European nations. German officials previously announced that the "third wave" of the virus has begun while Italy has imposed new lockdown measures in response to the wave of cases.

France is also expected to announce new COVID-19 mitigation measures in response to an increase in cases.

Newsweek reached out to the EMA and AstraZeneca for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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