Europe Pauses AstraZeneca Vaccine Rollout

Pic Credit: Economist Intelligence Unit.

The world is divided into three opinions—the first consists of those with a considerable number of cases countered by vigorous vaccine campaigns, for example, the United States and the United Kingdom. The second includes those with few vaccines but a low number of cases like Australia and New Zealand. The Third are those with a lot of cases and few vaccinations. Europe falls in the third category. It is quite an unexpected outcome for European nations that thought it had managed the pandemic.

On March 15, 2021, Germany, France, Italy and Ireland joined a group formed of European nations that have decided to ban the AstraZeneca vaccine. Last week Denmark said it had paused the AstraZeneca vaccine shorts following a report of blood clotting. The University of Oxford and health regulators in the United Kingdom have said there is no evidence of a connection between blood clotting and vaccine shortage. Europe's medicine regulations said last week that it is analyzing 30 reported cases of severe clotting.

This pause in AstraZeneca welcomes another major setback for Europe and its fight against the pandemic. Moreover, it now lacks behind the United States, United Kingdom and Israel. Politically, leaders are now balancing the lockdowns with public protest. France has introduced a curfew, keepings its school open. Italy is now considering lockdown as well. Germany slackened its restriction when cases were spiking, putting its fate in vaccination programs.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca chief executive, has pushed back against the claim of clotting, effectiveness and its rollout. Delays in giving out the AstraZeneca vaccine threaten to exacerbate vaccination-drive woes and could put additional pressure on governments striving to expedite things up. AstraZeneca has become a target of European politicians who have accused it of not doing enough to provide the continent with more shots.

Over the weekend, Norway said that four people who received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine had encountered blood clotting issues, and all had low platelet counts. The country has reported two deaths in health care workers who each had an intracerebral hemorrhage. While Norway has paused the use of the vaccine, health officials have emphasized they were acting out of caution and that there was no evidence the vaccine had caused the problems.

-Kabir Kalia

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