Poland Official Calls AstraZeneca Scare 'Planned Disinformation' As Europe Divides Over Shot

Michal Dworczyk, the chief of staff for Poland's Prime Minister, said Tuesday that he believes growing safety concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine could be a result of "a planned disinformation campaign." He also said that the country will continue to administer the shots.

Dworczyk's comments come as an increasing number of European countries have suspended the vaccine over unconfirmed reports that the shot could cause fatal blood clots.

NEW: Poland will carry on using #AstraZeneca accused others of giving in to “disinformation”

PM’s chief of staff:

“Most countries that have temporarily suspended (AstraZeneca) vaccinations have given in to panic caused by media-fuelled information about alleged complications”

— Darren McCaffrey (@DarrenEuronews) March 16, 2021

"Most countries that have temporarily suspended [AstraZeneca] vaccinations have given in to panic caused by media-fueled information about alleged complications," Dworczyk said, according to a Euronews editor.

"In my opinion, it is possible that we are dealing with a planned disinformation campaign and a brutal fight by medical companies, possibly supported by the countries in which these companies are registered," he added.

The Polish government official went on to say that he believes countries that have suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine "will soon return" to administering the shots.

He added that any decisions made by the Polish government would be "guided solely by hard data" from scientists and doctors.

He added: “I am convinced that many of them will soon return to vaccinations using AstraZeneca.”

Said that any decisions made by the Polish government would be “guided solely by hard data” and the recommendations of scientists and doctors

— Darren McCaffrey (@DarrenEuronews) March 16, 2021

The AstraZeneca vaccine was created by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. It was approved for use in the U.K. in December and across the 27 member states of the European Union the following month.

But as of Tuesday, 17 European countries have suspended the use of the vaccine over reports that the inoculation could lead to dangerous blood clots, also known as "thromboembolic events."

There have been 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated with the shot in the European Union (EU) and Britain. There have also been cases of people dying suddenly after receiving the shot in Italy, but it has not been confirmed whether those incidents are directly related to the vaccine.

The 17 countries that have suspended or halted the vaccine are Austria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Along with Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Ukraine said they would continue to administer the vaccine, the BBC reported.

A Polish government official said Tuesday that the country would continue administering AstraZeneca vaccines despite growing concern over its safety. Here, a Ukrainian army medic prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine before vaccinating a serviceman at a military hospital in Severodonetsk, on March 9, 2021. ANATOLII STEPANOV/Getty Images

Despite concerns, numerous scientific bodies—including the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)—have since stressed that there is no evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood-clotting incidents.

The EMA, which is conducting an ongoing investigation of the vaccine, is expected to release updated results about its safety on Thursday.

On Monday, the three largest members of the EU—Germany, France and Italy—said they were going to wait for the results of that report before deciding whether to proceed further with the vaccine, BBC reported.

"We expect some kind of verdict from the European scientific community by Thursday afternoon, allowing us to resume the campaign," French Health minister Olivier Véran said on Tuesday, according to the news outlet.

AstraZeneca defended its vaccine by directing Newsweek to a company statement on Tuesday, in which it said that "the safety of all is our first priority."

"We are working with national health authorities and European officials and look forward to their assessment later this week," the company added. "Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population."

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the U.S., but an ongoing Phase III clinical trial assessing the shot is expected to be completed as soon as April.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, reassured Americans about the safety of U.S. vaccines.

"Thus far—you have to keep following these things very carefully—there are no safety signals that turn out to be red flags," Fauci said.

Newsweek contacted the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.