Matt Hancock urges people to keep getting AstaZeneca vaccine

The public have been urged to keep getting the jab as European countries halt its rollout (Picture: PA)

The health secretary has insisted the ‘Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is safe’ as he urged the public to continue to get vaccinated.

Matt Hancock moved to reassure the public as countries across Europe halted the vaccine’s rollout, despite the UK and world health bodies saying there was no indication the jab caused blood clots.

It comes as France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, said he will receive his first dose as soon as his Government resumes inoculations in a bid to boost public confidence.

Portugal today joined the list of 14 European countries to suspend the jab, as the EU’s medicines regulator carries out a full scientific review into the vaccine with an update expected on Thursday.

However, it said it ‘remains convinced’ that the ‘benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risk’ as it works to clear up concerns about potential side-effects.

The health secretary today said ‘huge numbers’ of people are still getting the jab in Britain but urged all those who are offered one to take it.

Mr Hancock told broadcasters: ‘We know that over 10 million people have had it in this country and that’s what the British regulator says but also the World Health Organisation and even the European regulator.

London, United Kingdom. Health Secretary Matt Hancock visits the Westminster Abbey Vaccination Centre and watches the MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, get vaccinated.

The health secretary moved to reassure the public that the vaccine is safe (Picture: Pippa Fowles/No10 Downing Street)

‘We keep the effects of these vaccines under review all the time and we know that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is saving lives in the UK right now so if you get the call, get the jab.’

‘The enthusiasm for getting the vaccine is incredibly strong and we’re still seeing that,’ he added.

France suspended its rollout on Monday, followed by countries such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria amid further investigations.

Italy today admitted it halted the jab as a ‘political move’, with the head of Italian medicines regulator AIFA, Nicola Magrini, saying ministers came under pressure after Germany and France suspended their rollouts.

French Prime Minister Mr Castex, 55, today said he wants to set an example by getting the jab and demonstrate to his fellow citizens ‘that vaccination is the exit door from this crisis’.

He told BFM-TV: ‘Given what is happening, what has just happened, with AstraZeneca, I told myself, in effect, that it would be wise that I get vaccinated very quickly, as soon as the suspension is, I hope, lifted.’

A nurse holds a box containing viles of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during the inoculation of patients at a private medical practice as part of a pilot project in the state of Brandenburg during the coronavirus pandemic in Senftenberg, Germany, 03 March 2021.

The vaccine’s rollout has been halted in a number of countries (Picture: EPA)

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) executive director, Emer Cooke, told a press briefing today there was no evidence that the vaccine caused the ‘very rare’ reported blood clots.

‘I want to stress at present there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions,’ she said.

‘They have not come up in the clinical trials and they are not listed as known side events with this vaccine.

‘In clinical trials both vaccinated people and people who received the placebo have shown some very small number of blood clot developments.

‘The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a fresh statement echoing her comments, saying while it was investigating the blood clot reports, it still believed the benefits of the vaccine outweighed any risks.

Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s top scientist, said on Monday that there have been no documented deaths linked to coronavirus vaccines, adding: ‘We do not want people to panic’.

AstraZeneca highlighted that there have been 37 reports of blood clots among more than 17 million people who have received the vaccine across the EU and the UK.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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