Several?European Countries Resume Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine

France, Germany and Italy resumed use Friday of a coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca after health officials sought to allay concerns it may cause blood clots.

The European nations resumed inoculations after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), an agency that regulates medicine, said the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine was “safe and effective” and the World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N. agency responsible for public health, said “available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions” among those who have been vaccinated.

However, in a sign that difficulties with the vaccine remain, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the country’s health advisory body is recommending AstraZeneca vaccinations only for people 55 or older.

French officials cited an assessment by the EMA that it could not rule out a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a small number of blood clots, particularly in younger women. The EMA said that overall, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.

The WHO repeated its recommendation Friday for countries worldwide to continue to administer shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The agency’s expert committee on coronavirus vaccines said the AstraZeneca vaccine has “tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths” and said “it is not certain” the blood clot cases have been caused by the vaccine.

In an effort to boost public confidence in the vaccine, French Prime Minister Jean Castex received a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccination Friday, saying it demonstrates “complete confidence.”

Italian Premier Mario Draghi said Friday that he would also take the vaccination when his age group’s turn arrives.

France, Italy and Germany are all battling an increase of coronavirus infections.

Several French regions, including Paris, began a new lockdown Friday in an effort to contain new coronavirus cases.

In Denmark, health officials said Friday they would wait another week before deciding whether or not to resume giving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Officials in Norway and Sweden have also said they will wait a week before announcing a decision.

Meanwhile, Brazil reported a record number of new daily coronavirus cases Friday — 90,570. The country’s health ministry also reported the second deadliest day since the pandemic began with 2,815 COVID-19 deaths. Brazil is battling a more contagious local variant of the virus.

In the United States, health officials announced the country had reached President Joe Biden’s goal of giving Americans 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, more than a month before his target date of his 100th day in office.

Also, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new distance guidelines for schools Friday, saying 1 meter of distance for masked students is adequate instead of the previously recommended 2-meter span.

“These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Biden visited the CDC’s headquarters Friday in Atlanta, Georgia, where he praised workers for their efforts to fight the pandemic.

“What you’re doing really, really matters,” he said, noting that the CDC workers are not just saving lives but also changing mindset of country.

In India, the country’s Union Health Ministry reported an increase in coronavirus infections Friday for a ninth day in a row, with 40,000 new cases in the previous 24-hour period. India has 11.5 million COVID-19 cases.

Only two countries have more infections than India — the United States, with 29.7 million cases, and Brazil, with 11.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, a U.S. research university.

Johns Hopkins reports there are 122.2 million global coronavirus infections.

Source: Voice of America