In a departure from the guidance given by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), France has deemed it too risky to administer AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people under 55 amid concerns of more thromboembolic events.
“Given the data provided by the EMA, it is the HAS’s belief that vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine can resume immediately,” the French regulator HAS (Haute Autorité de Santé) said in a statement on Friday.
However, the EMA has identified a possible increased risk of (thrombosis) in people under 55 years old… The HAS recommends using the AstraZeneca vaccine at this stage only for people aged 55 and over, who represent the majority of priority people.
The move marks another U-turn in France, as the AstraZeneca jab had been previously designated only for those under the age of 65.
The HAS said it would continue to review its decision as new data emerge.
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On Thursday, following a week-long review, the EMA once again gave its backing to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The medicines regulator investigated whether there was a causal link between seven cases of blood clots which affected multiple blood vessels and 18 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) among nearly 20 million vaccine recipients. The EMA deemed the jab “safe and effective” and said its benefits far outweigh its risks.
Apart from concerns over side effects of its jab, AstraZeneca has been heavily criticized in the EU for the delivery shortages. Speaking on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hit out at the Anglo-Swedish vaccine producer, claiming that it had “underproduced and underdelivered” while both Pfizer and Moderna have met their contract agreements.
She said the EU is still waiting for doses of AstraZeneca to arrive from the UK, adding that Brussels may have to consider blocking EU exports of vaccines to Britain if things do not change.
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