For the European Commission, European countries must stop making unilateral decisions on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Wednesday called on EU members to coordinate and “speak with one voice” on this vaccine, the use of which several countries have restricted. The objective for the Commission is “not to confuse citizens” and thus to reduce mistrust against this product.
“It is essential that we follow a coordinated approach (…) We must speak with one voice across the EU in order to strengthen public confidence in vaccination”, she said in a tweet, before speak to European health ministers. They were gathered to examine the conclusions of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirming the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots.
The European regulator, however, said that the benefits of the vaccine from the Swedish-British laboratory outweigh the risks, and that no specific risk factor, such as age, had been identified. However, several European states have already decided to restrict its use according to age criteria, which vary from one country to another. Last week, for example, Germany advised against the use of the product for the youngest, reserving it for over 60 years. In France, the Haute Autorité de santé has recommended that it be reserved for people aged 55 and over.
“The world is watching us”
Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido, whose country has held the rotating EU presidency since January, also called for better European coordination on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “This is a technical decision, not a political decision. We must continue to follow the best scientific information provided by the EMA and its advice. We must not forget that individual decisions affect everyone, ”she insisted.
“The world is watching us, and we must keep in mind that the AstraZeneca vaccine is the main vaccine that is exported to low and middle income countries,” Stella Kyriakides also worried in her address to ministers . However, “the experience with AstraZeneca shows that our pharmacovigilance system works”, by reporting to the European police the reports of thrombosis in vaccinated people, observed the Commissioner.