Germany, France suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine
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French President Emmanuel Macron says that France is suspending the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine use out of precaution.

Macron told a news conference Monday that French authorities have decided to suspend shots at least until Tuesday afternoon, when the European Medicines Agency will issue its recommendation over the vaccine. He didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the decision.

He said France hopes to be able to vaccine again with AstraZeneca shots “soon”.

Nurse Susann Rettberg handles a vial of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Saxony, Germany. (Getty)

The country’s health minister said the decision was taken on the advice of Germany’s national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which called for further investigation into seven reported cases of clots in the brains of people who had been vaccinated.

“Today’s decision is a purely precautionary measure,” Jens Spahn said.

Several countries, starting with Denmark last week, have temporarily halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent days to investigate cases of blood clots that occurred after vaccination. They include Ireland, Thailand, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Congo and Bulgaria.

Last week, Germany was one of several nations that stuck by the shot.

Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, comments on the suspension of Astrazeneca’s Corona vaccine at a press conference in Berlin, Germany. (AP)

Blood clots can travel through the body and cause heart attacks, strokes and deadly blockages in the lungs.

AstraZeneca has said that there is no cause for concern with its vaccine and that there were fewer reported thrombosis cases in those who received the shot than in the general population.

The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation have also said that the data does not suggest the vaccine caused the clots and that people should continue to be immunised.

Spahn, the German health minister, said of the decision to suspend the AstraZeneca shot: “The most important thing for confidence is transparency.”

Spahn said the European Medicines Agency would determine whether and how the new information will affect the authorisation of the vaccine across the continent and expressed hope that the Amsterdam-based regulator would make a decision on the issue this week.

French President Emmanuel Macron. (AP)

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany has received slightly over 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Spahn said about 1.6 million doses of the shot have so far been administered in the country.

Q&A: What we know about the AstraZeneca vaccine

Is Australia planning to use the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Yes. Australia has secured about 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with 50 million of them to be produced locally in Melbourne.The first shipment arrived in Australia at the end of February.

I’m Australian, which vaccine will I get?

Australia has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine. You will not be given a choice about which vaccine you get.

What does the government think about these blood clot developments?

Scott Morrison has moved to reassure Australians that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is safe.He said there was no need for Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to reconsider the vaccine.The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use last month.

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