: Europe’s shelving of AstraZeneca shot delays further its troubled vaccination campaigns

United States

Suspension of the AstraZeneca–Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is generalized in Europe after Germany and France emulated smaller countries on fear of undesired effects. Most medicine regulators have advised against the temporary ban, which will delay the already-slow vaccination campaigns on the continent.

  • Germany, France, Italy and Spain (joined on Tuesday by Sweden), have followed the smaller countries that had suspended the vaccine after several patients suffered blood clots.
  • Anglo-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca AZN, +0.72% has noted that the number of people suffering from blood clots isn’t superior to that of the general population. Both the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency this week advised governments to keep using the shot, which was developed with the University of Oxford.
  • The EMA is due to issue an advice on Thursday after a further review of the cases in Europe.
  • The suspension decisions come as most European governments are trying to accelerate their vaccination drive, hindered by logistical miscalculations, bureaucratic paralysis, and supply problems.
  • In the nearly three months since vaccines became available, 38% of the U.K. population, and 33% of the U.S., have received at least one dose of one of the available vaccines. That compares to about 11% in Germany, France or Italy.

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The outlook: Most European Union governments have acted as a precautionary measure designed to soothe fears among vaccine-skeptic populations. If the EMA once again greenlights the AstraZeneca shot on Thursday, they will have the cover they need to resume using it. French President Emmanuel Macron has already said this could happen quickly after the EMA report.

But the EU still finds itself in the situation of suspending — and creating mistrust — about the AstraZeneca vaccine two months after it complained that the company wasn’t delivering enough doses and didn’t abide by its contract. And of controlling exports of a vaccine its political leaders seem to deem unsafe.

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