EMA: no restrictions for Astrazeneca

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has completed its review of the Astrazeneca vaccine and recommended its continued use without restrictions. It concluded that although there is a possible link between the vaccine and very rare cerebral venous thrombosis, the benefits outweigh any potential risks. Europe's press doubts that the Agency's decision will dispel all the doubts.

Open/close all quotes
Jutarnji list (HR) /

Doubts understandable but not justified

A certain amount of scepticism remains, says Jutarnji list:

“Your average citizen isn't a medical expert, and it's difficult for them to navigate the maze of information about this vaccine. Many people know how serious Covid is and would like to be vaccinated, but they're still confused and fear unwanted side effects. ... But now, after a detailed investigation, the EMA has decided that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks many times over. ... For every two million people vaccinated, there is less than one death that can be linked to the rare blood clotting disorder. In comparison, the risk of death from Covid-19 is one in 150 infected people.”

Postimees (EE) /

People are irrational in judging risks

The decision will boost people's confidence in the vaccine, Postimees hopes:

“The human brain is unable to correctly assess events with a very low probability of occurring. One person out of one hundred to one hundred and fifty infected with coronavirus in Estonia will die of the disease. Only one out of more than a million people vaccinated has died as a result of thrombosis. Mathematicians can explain why it's not sensible to play the lottery. Even so, people do it all the time. ... The EMA has said that the minimal risk of thrombosis has no correlation to age or gender. Therefore, neither in Estonia nor in other European countries can the age limit be based on the risk of thrombosis.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Left to individual states to decide what to do

Writing in La Stampa, immunologist Antonella Viola is less than convinced by the EMA's stance:

“On the one hand, it has admitted that the number of thrombotic events in the under-60 age group is higher than expected, but on the other hand, it has repeatedly stressed that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, leaving it up to the various member states to decide for themselves how to behave. A questionable position that shows the weakness and criticality of the European regulatory agency, which should in fact be dictating guidelines to the different countries, especially at a complicated time like the present.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

As safe as a game of chance

Columnist Giorgos Kallinikou feels reminded of a Greek game of chance called Joker. He writes in Phileleftheros:

“You play, no matter what happens. If you benefit from the positive effects of the vaccine, so much the better. If you suffer from the negative effects, no matter how slim the odds are, tough luck! If that shows responsibility and respect for human life, I'm an astronaut. Experts have argued that all vaccines, for all diseases, have potential negative side effects. With one major difference: vaccines against other diseases have been tested for many years, and improved over time. In contrast, coronavirus vaccines have only now been introduced en masse, in a climate of global fear. That's why the findings on thrombosis and other side effects are alarming.”

The Times (GB) /

Continued use indispensable

Astrazeneca remains essential in the global fight against the pandemic, The Times believes:

“It is cheap and can easily be stored and tweaked to deal with new variants. It is also being manufactured in large quantities in India. There is no reason to stop its use. Indeed in a country such as Brazil, whose leadership has been irresponsible in not enforcing lockdowns, the death rate has climbed to 4,000 a day and could exceed 100,000 this month. Only the immediate deployment of all available vaccines can start to halt infections. ... The European Medicines Agency, which has also backed the continued use of AstraZeneca, has suggested that unusual blood clots should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine. The emphasis must be on the words 'very rare'.”