EU expecting herd immunity by end of June: report
The European Commission says that most member states will have a sufficient coronavirus vaccine supply to reach herd immunity by the end of June, according to a memo circulated to national delegations in Brussels and viewed by Bloomberg News.
The forecast, however, hangs on the assumption that approximately 70 million AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed this quarter. That vaccine is under scrutiny following reports of blood clots among some recipients of the shot.
The European Union’s drug regulator said on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg, that its Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee is still looking into the possible side effects of the vaccine.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides wrote on Twitter that the evaluation is “expected late Wednesday.”
Reports of the blood clots led to multiple temporary suspensions of the AstraZeneca shot, which has not been approved for use in the U.S. While a number of countries have resumed using the vaccine, some are now imposing age requirements.
Last week health officials in Germany suspended the use of the vaccine for individuals under 60 years old amid the blood clot concerns.
“In sum it’s about weighing the risk of a side effect that is statistically small, but needs to be taken seriously, and the risk of falling ill with corona,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
Also last week, federal authorities, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is led by Anthony Fauci, raised concerns that AstraZeneca may have included “outdated information” on its COVID-19 vaccine trial in reporting its efficacy.
The World Health Organization on March 12 announced, however, that there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and the reported blood clots.
AstraZeneca expressed the same sentiment two days later, writing in a statement that “a careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country.”