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France halts use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

PARIS –

Decision to be effective for at least 24 hours until new advice is given by European Medicines Agency.

France on Monday decided to briefly suspend the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca over reports that some recipients had developed serious blood clots, the country’s president announced.

The decision will be effective for at least 24 hours until new advice is given by the European Medicines Agency on Tuesday.

“The decision to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution was taken, in accordance with our European policy and we are hoping to resume it as soon as possible if the advice is favorable,” Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference.

European countries, including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Bulgaria, Denmark and Norway, have already suspended the use of the vaccine.

Macron’s remarks also followed the development in the Bouches-du-Rhone department in the south of France where local firefighters stopped administering AstraZeneca vaccine to its staff upon noticing “serious adverse effects” after 48 hours.

La Provence newspaper reported that at least one firefighter was hospitalized for cardiac arrhythmia, a day after receiving his first dose. About 60 men and women from the firefighter department had already received the vaccine last week.

France is administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to all frontline health workers, medical care administrators, firefighters and to people above the age of 50 years.

The National Medicines Safety Agency in its latest evaluation had said AstraZeneca generated about 0.66% of adverse effects.

Of the 454,545 shots of the vaccine administered in France, temporary and mild side effects were noted in 3,013 cases. In comparison, the adverse effects noticed in Pfizer vaccine were at 0.19% and in Moderna at 0.12%.

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