Demand for AstraZeneca Covid jab remains ‘incredibly strong’ despite EU countries pausing rollout, Hancock says

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Demand for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the UK remains “incredibly strong” despite a string of EU countries pausing use of the jab in their inoculation programmes, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary said British regulators were keeping vaccine side effects “under review” but at present, there was no evidence to link the AstraZeneca shot to blood clots.

Mr Hancock’s comments came after Latvia and Sweden joined a growing list of nations to slam the brakes on their jab campaigns after blot clots were reported in a small number of patients who had received it on the continent. Poland and Belgium are among the EU countries continuing to use it.

AstraZeneca, The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the World Health Organisation and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency have all said the jab is safe and encouraged countries to keep using it.

Despite backing from multiple regulators, Germany, Spain and Italy have said they will wait until the EMA publishes findings from an investigation it launched following the blood clot reports. The EMA said the conclusion of the probe was unlikely to change its recommendation.

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