Germany, France and Italy suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations

It’s been a rough few days for AstraZeneca, as European nations seemingly play follow-the-leader, and one after another pauses its use of Astra’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Germany, France and Italy became the latest European countries to suspend use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, citing concerns of potential blood clots even though the World Health Organization has said no such link exists.

Monday’s announcements come on the heels of Denmark, Iceland, Ireland and Norway previously hitting pause, similarly citing reports that individuals inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine were becoming ill, and some were dying.

Experts, AstraZeneca and Europe’s regulatory body all insist that the vaccine’s benefits— namely preventing COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations and helping to stop the pandemic — outweighs its risks. They have repeatedly pointed out that the number of people to report the side effect is relatively small, and no causal link has been established.

AstraZeneca has not yet applied for authorization in the U.S.

Why it’s important: The concern is that even if, or when, these reports are officially proven unfounded, the actions of these countries could result in widespread confidence issues. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is intended to be the cheapest and most widely used across the globe. The company has come under fire in Europe for production issues causing delivery delays, but the pauses could have even greater consequences for countries to bring the pandemic under control.