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.
‘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.
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.’
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.
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