Why European nations are suspending use of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

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On Tuesday night, French prime minister Jean Castex suggested attitudes towards the AstraZeneca jab in the country were shifting after telling broadcasters he would accept a dose of the vaccine "as soon as the suspension is lifted".

The WHO's global advisory committee on vaccine safety examined the data on Tuesday and reviewed reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in people who had received the shot, the agency has said.

Matt Hancock has sought to reassure the public the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, insisting there is no evidence the coronavirus jab has caused blood clots after some European nations halted its rollout. She noted the daily toll that COVID-19 is continuing to take across Europe and said vaccines were critical to stopping its spread.

Europe's drug watchdog, which is due to report later on Thursday, is reviewing a small number of reports of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts in people who have received AstraZeneca's vaccine.

Kate O'Brien, director of WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said that a World Health Organization vaccine safety panel that met on Tuesday was assessing whether medical events such as blood clots were actually related to vaccination.

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"We are anxious that there may be an effect on the trust of the vaccines", Executive Director Emer Cooke said.

The German government defended its decision to suspend the use of the vaccine, saying it was based on expert advice.

Canada is also in talks with the US about vaccines as President Joe Biden says his government will open access to other countries when the American population is inoculated. In total, 45 million COVID shots have been delivered across the region.

Germany will rely on the EMA decision to determine how to proceed, Health Ministry spokesman Hanno Kautz said. Determining whether or not the vaccine is to blame can be hard, since most of the people getting inoculated first are those most at risk of the coronavirus.

"Such reports are not proven side effects of the vaccine".

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