Covid-19: Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe? WHO is positive but the EU is still deciding

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A woman doctor or nurse vaccinating a patient with a syringe.
A woman doctor or nurse vaccinating a patient with a syringe.
Luis Alvarez

The EU's drug regulator said Tuesday it is still deciding whether the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine causes blood clots, after a top official said there was a clear link.

The European Medicines Agency's safety committee "has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing", the Amsterdam-based EMA said in a statement to AFP.

"We will communicate and hold a press briefing as soon as the review is finalised. This is currently expected tomorrow (Wednesday, 7 April) or on Thursday, 8 April," it added.

The statement came after the EMA's head of vaccine strategy Marco Cavaleri was quoted in Italian media as saying that there was a "clear" connection and that the agency would announce it within hours.

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"In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine. But we still do not know what causes this reaction," Cavaleri told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper in an interview.

After several countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab, the EMA said on 18 March that the benefits of using it outweigh the risks and it should remain in use.

But it has said there is a possible link to rare blood clots and that it would issue updated advice during this week's meeting of its safety committee.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation says the risk-benefit balance for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is "still largely positive".

"There's no evidence that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine needs to be changed," Rogerio Pinto de Sa Gaspar, the WHO's director for regulation and pre-qualification, told a press conference.

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