More Nations Pause Use of AstraZeneca Shot

The vaccination program in Europe has sunk further into disarray. The countries that are suspending the use of the AstraZeneca Plc. shot are rising. Germany, France, Italy and Portugal are just the latest countries to pause the use of the vaccine pending a further assessment by the European Medicines Agency. Bloomberg’s Maria Tadeo reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe.”

“This is a PR nightmare for AstraZeneca. It’s a huge blow for that vaccine. And just the communications around it just really very much all over the place in Europe.” – Maria Tadeo

 

MANUS: What’s precipitated this caution, rising caution, by the heart of Europe? Good morning.

MARIA: Good morning Manus. Really it was that decision from Germany yesterday to suspend AstraZeneca. They worry about the blood clots. They say they want to figure out if this is a direct side effect from the AstraZeneca vaccine. And it’s the Germans taking that decision, very controversial decision yesterday, that really precipitated this domino effect from the French, from the Italians, from the Spanish. And if you move away from that, I guess you could say it’s legitimate to review a vaccine if there’s issues or concerns around it. The problem here really has been the communications, Manus. This has been all over the place for a week now. The European public very much whiplashed by a number of information that contradicts each other. And I would also say when you look at the statements still from the regulator the European Medicines Agency, still singing, still reiterating, ‘we still believe the benefits of the vaccine would outstrip the risks.’ So this is of course an issue about the vaccine. It’s about those concerns which may be, I want to stress, very legitimate on the blood clots. But really this is a PR nightmare for AstraZeneca. It’s a huge blow for that vaccine. And just the communications around it just really very much all over the place in Europe.

ANNMARIE: Right Maria. Some are suggesting this is a much a political decision as it is scientific. What happens next. I know there’s a number of meetings coming up this week.

MARIA: Yes Annmarie, and look, Emmanuel Macron yesterday said he was suspending the vaccine and he would do so until today and that he wanted to see further clarity from the European Medicines Agency. Now as I said just yesterday, the EMEA, the head of the European Medicines Agency vaccine unit, he was still repeating that he didn’t really see a problem with AstraZeneca. Nonetheless we know that there’s also a health ministers meeting happening today and that on Thursday there will be a review by the European Medicines Agency. Now at that point it could decide to pull that vaccine altogether or it could reiterate that message that it is still okay to use it for public health. But the question at that point, and this is really the question in Europe, is whether or not the damage here, the reputational damage on AstraZeneca, has been done already. We have seen many anecdotal evidence that when it comes to the take up, AstraZeneca is much more problematic than any other vaccine that’s on the market in Europe so far, Annmarie.

*Bloomberg contributed to this article.

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