Health experts offer reassurance over safety of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

Health experts offer reassurance over safety of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Courtesy: Reuters

Health experts have offered reassurance over the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, even as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons this week that he is booked to get that very jab as the National Health Service (NHS) expanded the UK’s vaccination drive to all over-50s.

Nearly 20 million people across the UK and the European Union (EU) have received a dose of the vaccine since it began to be administered in December 2020, but there have been concerns over the safety of the jab. Around 13 countries, including Italy, Germany, and France suspended use of the vaccine, and are seeking further clarification on the jab amid reports of fewer than 40 cases of blood clots.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to "listen to the regulators" and to "get the jab" as soon as they got the opportunity, and reiterated that the vaccine was safe.

"We keep the effects of these vaccines under review all the time and we know that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is saving lives in the UK right now so if you get the call, get the jab," he stressed.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which serves as the country's medicines watchdog, also said evidence suggests the jab does not cause clots.

Dr Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead at the MHRA, said that people "should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so".

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also believe that the vaccine was safe. The EMA are currently conducting an investigation into the safety of the jab, but they said they are still "firmly convinced" of the benefits.

England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, reiterated that there is a lot of evidence emerging suggesting there is no "excess signal or risk" associated with the vaccines, wehereas a lot of evidence exists to the contrary that they are safe and effective.

Meanwhile, this week marked 100 days since the NHS gave Maggie Keenan her first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination on 8 December 2020 and made world history with the first-ever jab to protect against Covid-19. The NHS said it was doubling down on its efforts to vaccinate large numbers against the deadly virus with new invitations now going out to millions of people aged 50 to 54 in the latest stage of the age-based programme.

“Just 100 days since the NHS gave the world’s first Covid jab outside of clinical trials, our vaccine programme passes another milestone as we now invite everyone aged 50 and over to book their vaccination,” said NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens.

(Cover Media/Reuters)

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