EU says 'no evidence' to restrict use of AstraZeneca vaccine

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 22, 2021, vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a fridge at the local vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany. German officials have decided to limit the use of AstraZenecas coronavirus vaccine in people under 60 after more unusual blood clots were reported in a small number of people who received the shots. Earlier this month, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File) (AP)

The head of the European Medicines Agency said Wednesday that there is “no evidence” that would support restricting the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in any population, as Germany has now done amid concerns over rare blood clots in people who got the shot.

But EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said her Amsterdam-based agency continues to study reports of new cases as they come in and will provide a further assessment next week.

On Tuesday, an independent vaccine expert panel in Germany said AstraZeneca shots should not routinely be given to people under 60 because of a rise in reported cases of unusual blood clots in the days after vaccination.

The German government followed the recommendation and said the British-Swedish company's vaccine would be prioritized for people age 60 and older, although exceptions can be made in consultation with doctors.

The move put the spotlight back on the European Medicines Agency, which authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine in January and said earlier this month — after some European countries suspended its use over blood clot fears — that the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks.

“According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population," Cooke told reporters.

She said the agency's assessment was based on 62 cases worldwide of unusual blood clots, including 14 deaths, reported to EMA by March 22. Those figures included a “significant” number of the cases reported from Germany, but not all, she said.

German regulators said they had received 31 reports of rare blood clots in the head in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine and nine deaths up to March 29, roughly doubling the number that had been reported in the country by March 22.