On Sunday, AstraZeneca issued a statement reiterating the safety of its COVID vaccine version, in the wake of isolated reports of blood clotting in some of the vaccine’s recipients.
The company maintained that “safety is of paramount importance” to it and said that it is “continually monitoring the safety of its vaccines”.
As such, it commented, “a careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with [the AstraZeneca vaccine version] has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, or thrombocytopenia.”
Furthermore, the reported 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and the 22 of pulmonary embolism amongst those given the vaccine is “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size”.
The company’s Chief Medical Officer Ann Taylor commented: “The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety”.
The company’s statement comes in the wake of the suspension of the use of the vaccine in multiple European countries, including Ireland, which suspended the administration of the vaccine on Sunday.
The group of countries took the measure in the wake of reports of people suffering severe blood clots after receiving vaccine doses from a particular batch.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Malta was amongst the countries to receive this batch of the vaccine, though Malta’s Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci reiterated the country’s continued backing of the vaccine and said that the people vaccinated with the batch in Malta had no subsequent health issues.
A monthly safety report by the European Medicines Agency is expected in the coming week and is expected to address speculation regarding the safety of the vaccine.
Even those countries that have suspended the use of the vaccine, such as Denmark, have maintained that this was a precautionary measure and that a causal relationship has not yet been confirmed.
In Malta, discussion has raged on the merits of this specific version of the vaccine.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, prominent Maltese Doctor and politician Anthony Buttigieg alleged a political motivation for recent criticism of the vaccine by EU countries.
In the post, he argued that a “political agenda to belittle a scientific achievement by [Britain] which just left the EU” has been a key cause for the proliferation of concerns over the vaccine version.
Dr Buttigieg said he believes that EU failings in their vaccine rollout program have made its criticisms more intense, and suggests the possible influence of rival vaccine producers that “stand to lose billions if the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely accepted”.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine IS safe”, he reiterated, pleading with his followers: “If you are offered it, take it”.
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