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Germany, France and Italy suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations

Germany, France and Italy suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations
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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 pausing, similarly citing reports that individuals inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine were becoming ill, and some were dying.

French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax France imposes travel restrictions on four countries to keep out coronavirus variants Macron: Russian presence at Ukraine border is 'absolutely counterproductive and unacceptable' MORE, at a news conference Monday, said the country was suspending shots until at least Tuesday afternoon, when the European Medicines Agency will announce recommendations regarding the vaccine, The Associated Press reported.

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Macron said he hopes the country will be able to continue inoculating individuals with AstraZeneca again “soon.”

AstraZeneca has said there is no evidence linking its vaccine to blood clots. The British pharmaceutical company released a statement on Monday after it reviewed 17 million vaccines administered in Europe, saying it found no increased risk of "pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia" in any groups.

The European Medicines Agency on Monday also released a statement backing the vaccine, saying its benefits for preventing COVID-19 and any associated hospitalizations and death outweigh the risks of any side effects.

The agency noted that thousands of people in the EU develop blood clots annually for different reasons, and the number of people who have developed blood clots after vaccination "seems not to be higher" than in the general population.

The agency has been investigating the reports, and its safety committee has called an emergency meeting for March 18 to discuss the findings and "any further actions that may need to be taken."

The World Health Organization on Friday said there is no link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

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The Hill has reached out to AstraZeneca for comment.

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

Updated at 2:55 p.m.