Since a number of countries suspended their rollouts, vaccine safety experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) are gathering on Tuesday to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Following news of blood clots in certain European recipients, countries such as France and Germany said they were behaving as a precaution.
There is no proof of a connection between clots and vaccines, according to the WHO.
It also encouraged countries not to stop immunizing their people.
On Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union’s medicines regulator, will meet. Previously, it was stated that people could choose to get the vaccine.
According to AstraZeneca, a study of 17 million individuals who got doses across Europe discovered 37 cases of blood clots.
According to experts, the number of blood clots recorded in vaccinated people is comparable to the general population.
What are European countries doing?
They announced that the rollout would be halted due to evidence of blood clots in some recipients. Blood clots are dense clumps that form in the blood, and if not treated immediately, they can be fatal. It was emphasized that this was a precautionary measure by the nations.
But several medical experts and politicians in Germany, where infections are rising rapidly, have argued that the vaccine should be used until proven unsafe.
“AstraZeneca is the second most important vaccine for us,” said Christoph Spinner of the Technical University of Munich.
Some countries have stopped using some doses of the drug, including Austria, while Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine have said they will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Many countries have increased controls in reaction to a spike in cases, and there are questions about the speed of Europe’s vaccination drive, which has also been plagued by shortages.
The suspension of the vaccine was described as “political” by the director general of the Italian medicines authority.
According to Nicola Magrini of the Italian daily newspaper la Repubblica, the vaccine is safe and the benefit-to-risk ratio is “widely optimistic.”
What has the WHO said?
A spokeswoman for the company said on Monday that there was “no proof” that the injuries were related to the vaccine.
The benefits of receiving the vaccine, according to the agency, outweighed the consequences of any side effects.
What does AstraZeneca say?
It said that for those who had been vaccinated, 15 cases of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot in a vein – and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lungs – had been recorded across the EU and the UK.
Finland has also done a “very careful study” and not found an increased risk, he added.
He said it was “absolutely critical that we don’t have a problem of not vaccinating people”.