(Update: adds EMA and WHO statements, minor edits)
Madrid Desk, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Slovenia on Monday became the latest countries to suspend the distribution of the coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
At a joint press conference with the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, after a bilateral summit in Montauban, French president Emmanuel Macron told a press conference that France was temporarily suspending use of the vaccine until the European Medicines Agency issues its review.
The EMA, which is investigating the cases and is expected to publish its findings this week, said Monday evening that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”
Denmark announced last week that it was halting its rollout of the vaccine after reports of blood clots in some patients who had been inoculated.
Norway followed suit after one person who had received the jab died of thrombosis, before Romania, Iceland, the Netherlands and Ireland also paused distribution pending investigations into the reports.
The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the World Health Organisation have urged countries to continue administering the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“It has not been confirmed that the reports of blood clots were caused by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine,” a statement by MHRA on Sunday said.
“People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.”
The WHO Monday urged countries not to panic and repeated its recommendation that countries continue to distribute and administer the vaccine.