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Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 8 April 2021 ()
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — In Spain, residents now have to be over 60 to get an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. In Belgium, over 55. In the United Kingdom, authorities recommend the shot not be given to adults under 30 where possible, and Australia's government announced similar limits Thursday to AstraZeneca shots for those under 50.

A patchwork of advice was emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield, a day after the European Union's drug regulator said there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare clotting disorder while reiterating the vaccine is safe and effective.

Regulators in the United Kingdom and the EU both stressed that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people, and the EU agency maintained its guidance that the vaccine can be used in all adults. But experts fear the confusing messages about the vaccine could still dampen enthusiasm for it at a time when Europe and many other parts of the world are facing surging cases.

Experts hammered home the rarity of the clots Thursday.

“The risks appear to be extremely low from this very rare side effect," Anthony R. Cox, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Pharmacy, told the BBC. "I mean it’s the equivalent of the risk of dying in the bath, drowning in the bath, for example, it’s that rare, or a plane landing on your house.”

Dr. Sabine Straus, chair of the EU regulator's Safety Committee, said the best data was from Germany, where there was one report of the clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The EU is trying, but so far failing, to avoid different policies among its 27...
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News video: Government ready to act on AstraZeneca advice, Zahawi says

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Covid Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi says the government stands ready to take the advice of the MHRA on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The UK's medicines regulatory body is considering restricting the use of the vaccine in younger people amidst concerns about rare blood clots. Report...

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