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Chris Whitty has insisted the British public are still keen to come forward and be vaccinated, despite several countries, including France, Spain and Italy, pausing delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab claiming safety fears.
The chief medical officer for England said there were anecdotal reports that a very small number of people had “not turned up immediately after they have heard the news” but many were likely to change their minds after a “pause for thought”.
“Overall there is no evidence of a significant problem, that people do not want vaccination,” he said, urging anyone with concerns to weigh them against the risks of contracting Covid.
Whitty emphasised the medical consensus over the safety of the jab, insisting: “The overwhelming professional view of doctors around the world, and other health professionals, is these vaccines are highly effective against a dangerous infection that is common, and they are safe – very safe – relative to the risk of the infection.”
He was speaking alongside Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference where the prime minister said he would receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine himself on Friday, as he reaffirmed its safety.
The prime minister sought to reassure the public amid reports of blood clots that have led several countries to pause the delivery of the vaccine.
Johnson highlighted a new statement from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published on Thursday, setting out the latest evidence on the safety of the vaccination programme.
“They’ve confirmed that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid far outweigh any risks, and people should continue to get their vaccine,” the prime minister said. “The Oxford jab is safe, the Pfizer jab is safe, the thing that is not safe is getting Covid.”
The MHRA’s chief executive, June Raine, said it had carried out a “rigorous scientific review” which showed that blood clots were occurring to no greater extent among the vaccinated population than would be expected in the absence of jabs.
Raine said there had also been five reports of a rare form of cerebral blood clot, among 11 million patients receiving the vaccine.
She said there was as yet no evidence of any causal link, but urged the public who had been vaccinated to seek medical attention if they have a headache, or bruising beyond the injection site, that lasts more than four days.
Johnson also sought to play down the significance of a slowdown in supplies of the vaccine over the next month, insisting it would not prevent the government from meeting its target of vaccinating all over-50s by mid-April, and the entire adult population by the end of July.
He stressed there would be no impact on the government’s roadmap plan for progressively reopening the economy and society between now and late June. “Our progress along the road to freedom remains unchecked,” he insisted.
Johnson praised the Serum Institute, which is manufacturing the Oxford vaccine in India, saying they were “doing a herculean job in producing vaccines in such large quantities”.
Asked whether ministers in Delhi had blocked the delivery of 4m doses from India that had been delayed, Johnson said: “No, no, no.” He added: “The Indian government hasn’t stopped any export; there is a delay, as there is very frequently in vaccine rollout programmes.
“There is a huge amount of work that we want to do together and this is just the beginning.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Britons still keen for Covid vaccine despite EU suspensions, says Whitty | Coronavirus