An expert has hit out at moves in several European countries to suspend COVID-19 vaccinations using the AstraZeneca jab.
Germany, France and Italy are among those to pause jabs pending advice from the European Medicines Agency.
The moves were precautionary and based on reports of blood clots in some recipients.
But Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist and specialist in molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said there was no increased risk of developing blood clots.
“I think it’s frankly irresponsible to have paused a vaccine programme when rates of infection are so high and the sad reality now is that people will actually get sick and die from not receiving the vaccine, which we know – and as the World Health Organization said – far outweighs any risks associating with vaccine safety.
“I think (the suspension) will not only impact the practicalities of vaccine rollout in terms of all the people ready and poised to vaccinate individuals with supplies of the vaccine, but it also undermines confidence in this vaccine and other vaccines. And we know that there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy around anyway and this just, unfortunately, will compound that.
“But I think undermining confidence in a vaccine that is really effective at preventing people from getting sick and dying is very, very irresponsible.”
Prof Young also said there was very little difference between the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines when it comes to the number of people reporting blood clots.
“Why select the AstraZeneca vaccine above any other vaccine? It seems like a rather bizarre decision,” he added.
AstraZeneca insists the vaccine is safe. The pharmaceutical company says out of the 17 million people in the EU and the UK who have been given a dose, there were fewer than 40 reported cases of blood clots.