THE HAGUE: Many countries, including Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, have halted the utilization of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on Thursday over grume fears.
The move has prompted Europe’s medical agency to quickly reassure the general public there have been no known health risks linked to the jab.
The melee over the vaccine came because the world marked one year since the pandemic was officially declared, and threatened to dim hopes that inoculations are the ticket to returning to normal life.
The virus has now killed quite 2.6 million people, subjected billions to anti-Covid restrictions, and left the worldwide economy in tatters — an outcome unimaginable at the outset of the crisis.
A year on, several countries are looking to peel back restrictions put in situ after second — or maybe third — waves and searching to build up vaccine rollouts as how out of the crisis.
But that momentum hit a snag Thursday as Denmark, Norway and Iceland all suspended the utilization of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab over fears it might be linked to blood clots.
Italy joined them, banning the vaccine as a precaution, whilst its medicines regulator said there was currently no established link with the alleged side-effects.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also issued a press release seeking to assuage fears.
“The information available thus far indicates that the amount of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is not any above that seen within the general population,” the EMA told AFP by email.
The UK also spoke out, saying the jab was “safe and effective”.
“When people are asked to return forward and take it, they ought to do so in confidence,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson´s spokesman said, as AstraZeneca shares plunged by quite 2.5 per cent on the stock market .
Gavi, which co-leads the Covax programme for ensuring vaccines are equitably distributed globally, said it might wait to listen to what the planet Health Organization had to mention .
“We know that national authorities and therefore the WHO are monitoring things closely and that we are going to be following their guidance and recommendation,” a spokeswoman said.
EU approves new jab
European Union countries are wanting to speed up vaccine drives after a slow start left the bloc behind the us , Israel and Britain — leaders within the race to immunise.
Any further AstraZeneca suspensions could hamper already slow progress, with the EU struggling to catch up and populations wanting to return to a pre-pandemic reality.
On Thursday, the EMA approved the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is stored at warmer temperatures than its competitors and is simpler to distribute.
“Authorities across the ecu Union will have an alternative choice to combat the pandemic and protect the lives and health of their citizens,” EMA chief Emer Cooke said during a statement.
Adding to the optimism on Thursday, a real-world study in Israel showed the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs to be 97 per cent effective against symptomatic Covid cases, above originally thought.
Since first emerging in China at the top of 2019, the coronavirus has infected nearly 118 million people, with few parts of the world left untouched.
The WHO officially declared Covid-19 an epidemic on March 11 last year as infection numbers were starting to explode across Asia and Europe.
The only defences to the contagious virus then seemed to be face masks and stopping people from interacting.
Global aviation came to a near-standstill and governments imposed deeply unpopular restrictions, forcing billions of fearful people into some sort of lockdown.
“We are on a war footing,” Corinne Krencker, the top of a hospital network in eastern France told AFP on March 11 last year, as patient and death numbers began to surge.
At an equivalent time, governments and scientists launched the race to make vaccines — research and development that might happen at an unprecedented, breakneck pace.
Today, quite 300 million vaccine doses are administered in 140 countries, consistent with an AFP tally.
- ´Light at the top of the tunnel´ –
Governments have began to cautiously roll back measures put in situ over what clothed to be a deadly winter in many spots.
Greece hopes to reopen for tourists in mid-May, a government official said Thursday.
France said it might ease travel restrictions from seven countries — including the united kingdom — while Portugal was set to lift a number of its anti-virus measures later Thursday.
And the sports world — after a year of cancelled or spectator-less matches — also looked to a return to normal because of more jabs.
The International Olympic Committee said athletes at the Tokyo Games and therefore the 2022 Beijing Winter Games would be offered vaccines bought from China.
Meanwhile, within the us , Congress passed one among its biggest stimulus efforts ever — a $1.9-trillion package that President Joe Biden said would give struggling American families a “fighting chance”.
Vaccination efforts there have gained momentum in recent weeks, with Biden vowing to possess enough doses in situ within months for the whole population during a country that has already clocked some 529,000 deaths, the very best within the world.
Biden will deliver a prime-time address on Thursday during which he will offer an optimistic vision for his nation.
“There is that the real reason for hope, folks, I promise you,” Biden said during a preview of his remarks.
“There is light at the top of the tunnel.”