Why can’t we be like the UK! French fury over AstraZeneca vaccine suspension

AstraZeneca suspensions a 'European tragedy' says Andrew Neil

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Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois has criticised the decision of several EU member states to suspend the use of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine. Blasting the relentless campaign against the jab, Mr Gallois pointed out the UK-based vaccine is the only one sold to the bloc at cost price.

He tweeted: “The campaign against AstraZeneca asks all the same question while it is the only vaccine sold at cost price (between 1 and 2 euros per dose).

“Yet there have been millions of people vaccinated in the UK worry-free.”

The Frexit campaigned went on to list the prices of some of the vaccines currently used across the world, highlighting the stark contrast between the low price of AstraZeneca compared to the others.

AstraZeneca, he claimed, is sold to member states at the price of €1,5-2 per dose, whilst its US rivals Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pf2izer are sold respectively at €6-7, €14-15 and €15-16 per dose.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, not yet approved by the bloc but used in Hungary, is sold at about €8 per dose.

Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus joined several other European nations on Monday in temporarily suspending AstraZeneca shots after reports of isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet count.

The Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand had already temporarily suspended their use of the jab.

Sweden added itself to the list on Tuesday, saying the move was precautionary.

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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said “many thousands of people” develop blood clots every year in the EU and “the number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population”.

The EMA’s safety committee is reviewing the data and working closely with the company, experts in blood disorders, and authorities including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The committee will further review the information on Tuesday ahead of an extraordinary meeting on Thursday to consider any further action that may be needed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is also urging countries to continue using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as global medical leaders meet to discuss reports of blood clots.

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Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, told a media briefing “we do not want people to panic”, as she said no association has been found so far between blood clots and Covid-19 vaccines.

She said the rates at which blood clots have occurred in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine “are in fact less than what you would expect in the general population”.

The WHO, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the EMA have all said there is no evidence the jab causes the problems.

According to AstraZeneca, about 17 million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases of blood clots reported to date.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the decision to pause the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could be a “disaster” for COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Europe.

Asked what he would say to those in the UK who are booked to receive the vaccine, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I really wouldn’t be worried at the present time.

“I think it is very clear that the benefits of being vaccinated at the moment so far outweigh the possible concern over this rather rare type of blood clot.

“It really is a completely one-sided argument statistically that we need to be vaccinating.

“I think it is a disaster for the vaccination uptake in Europe, which is already on slightly unsteady ground in some countries.”

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain that Covid was far riskier in terms of developing blood clots than any vaccine side-effect.

He said: “It’s really important to remember that Covid is a vascular illness and causes clots all over the body.

“So, the risk of developing blood clots from Covid far, far exceeds any potential risk from the vaccination.”

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