New Delhi, March 17: Over a dozen European countries, including Italy, Germany and France, have suspended use of the COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca following alleged reports of suspected deaths from blood clots after vaccinations. Their stance is being questioned after the director general of Italy’s medicines authority AIFA said it was a "political" decision. WHO Reports No Link Between AstraZeneca Vaccine and Blood Clots.

Last week, Iceland, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Latvia and Lithuania suspended the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine over blood clot fears. The decision was taken despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Medicines Agency saying that there was no evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood clot. Later, more European countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Portugal and Netherlands also announced to stop the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 Vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna for Sale on Darknet for $250 to $1,200.

These European countries described the move as a precautionary measure despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency had approved the use of the vaccine in the European Union (EU) on January 29. Meanwhile, data from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) showed more people reported blood clots after having Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine than the Oxford-AstraZeneca one. Interestingly, no European country suspended the use of Pfizer's jab.

According to the MHRA data, as of February 28, 38 cases of blood clot were reported after vaccination with Pfizer's dose, whereas only 30 blood clot incident were reported after vaccination with Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. This led many to ask whether the suspension of the Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine could be political and not scientific.

And Nicola Magrini, the director general of Germany's AIFA, confirmed that these suspended had been "political". "We got to the point of a suspension because several European countries, including Germany and France, preferred to interrupt vaccinations... to put them on hold in order to carry out checks. The choice is a political one," Magrini was quoted by daily la Repubblica as saying.

While AstraZeneca said that the vaccine was safe, Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer of the company, also said the rate of blood clot is lower than we expect anyway. She said: "Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population."

After Magrini's statement and data from the MHRA, many say the suspension of the Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine will cost dearly to the European countries. Natasha Loder from The Economist tweeted: "Side effects of the suspension of the AZ vaccine include severe to moderate covid-19, long-term organ damage, and death." Meanwhile, the WHO is conducting safety review of the vaccine.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 17, 2021 03:48 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website