France joined several European countries on Monday in suspending the use of the AstraZeneca anti-coronavirus vaccine. French President Emmanuel Macron said the ban would remain in place at least until Tuesday’s meeting of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which will decide on the treatment’s safety.
“The decision has been made … to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution,” said Macron, speaking from a summit in the south of France. “We hope that we can resume it quickly if the judgment of the EMA allows it.
“We have a simple guide, to be informed by science and the competent heath authorities and to do it as part of a European strategy,” Macron said, adding that the suspension would be until at least Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday night, ahead of its meeting to analyse the flood of data, the EMA said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.
The body said it would hold an extraordinary meeting on Thursday to clarify how to proceed.
Macron’s intervention came a day after the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, had defended the vaccine.
“At this stage, we must have confidence in this vaccine,” Castex said on Sunday. “If not, we’ll have delays with our vaccinations and French people will be less protected and the health crisis will last longer.”
On Friday, the World Health Organisation said there was no reason to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine despite several countries such as Norway and Denmark postponing or limiting its roll-out following deaths and cases of blood clots among people who had been given the jab.