Home » Politics » Vaccine is safe – and we’re back on the road to freedom
Vaccine is safe – and we’re back on the road to freedom
March 19, 2021
AstraZeneca vaccine ‘safe and effective’ says EMA
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters.Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer.Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights.You can unsubscribe at any time.
Warnings of a dip in supply, coupled with unfounded safety fears, had sent shock waves through the country this week. But the Prime Minister vowed the Government still has millions of doses to continue dishing out and that our road to freedom will not be delayed by jab shortages. He said: “We will still offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July, so there is no change to the next steps of the roadmap.
“The Oxford jab is safe, and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid, which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.”
Mr Johnson, who will receive an Oxford/AstraZeneca jab today, declared that medical evidence has overwhelmingly confirmed that the vaccine is safe.
He spoke out after the European Medicines Agency officially certified the Oxford jab “safe and effective” and rejected the panic in more than a dozen EU countries linking it to rare blood clots in the brain.
Germany will return to administering the Oxford jab today. Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands have said they will follow suit next week.
France and Italy are also due to resume Oxford jab vaccinations from today following the verdict.
A warning about reduced supplies from vaccine manufacturers was sounded in a leaked letter from NHS chiefs earlier this week.
But the Government yesterday said the issue was caused by a need to retest a batch of 1.7 million doses under “rigorous” safety checks.
There was also a delay in imports expected from the Serum Institute of India, one of the biggest vaccine manufacturers in the world.
A fire had broken out at the institute in January, though media reports said production of vaccines had not been affected.
Mr Johnson denied reports that the Indian government had intervened to restrict movement of the doses.
He said: “We’ve always said that in a vaccination programme of this pace and this scale, some interruptions in supply are inevitable and it is true that in the short term we are receiving fewer vaccines than we had planned for a week ago.” But he said enough supply is in the pipeline to allow the Government “to hit the targets we have set”.
Mr Johnson added: “We’ve now vaccinated over 25 million across our entire United Kingdom – more than the entire population of many countries and our progress along the road to freedom continues unchecked.
“We remain on track to reclaim the things we love, to see our families and friends again, to return to our local pubs, our gyms and sports facilities and, of course, our shops.
“As it happens, I’m getting mine tomorrow.
“And the centre where I’m getting jabbed is currently using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for those receiving their first dose, and that is the one I’ll be having.
“And let me also assure you – if you come forward after receiving your letter, we have the jabs for you.”
Government officials have been concerned that the suspension of Oxford jabs in Germany, France, Spain, Ireland and other EU countries saw a small dip in the numbers coming forward for injections in the UK.
A Downing Street source said: “There was a dip at the start of the week when the reports of what was happening in Europe came out.
“There were a number of missed appointments.
“The reports obviously caused some concerns. People are only human.” Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also acknowledged the impact on injections with a “very small” number of missed appointments.
He said: “There are anecdotal reports which I am sure will be accurate that in some places a few people have not turned up immediately after they heard the news.”
Professor Whitty predicted that “very reassuring data” from the European Medicines Agency, the World Health Organisation and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showing no link to blood clots would lead to people continuing to come forward for jabs.
He added: “Almost record numbers have been going through in terms of people taking up the vaccine.
“Overall there is no evidence of a significant problem, that people do not want vaccination.
“The general public is, as always, sensible and steady on this. They understand this is a dangerous disease.”
Giving its verdict on the Oxford vaccine yesterday, the European Medicines Agency said there was no overall increase in the risk of blood clots with the vaccine.
If anything, the jab was more likely to reduce the overall risk of clots, it was said.
Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said: “The committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion.
“This is a safe and effective vaccine. Its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19, with the associated risks of death and hospitalisation, outweigh the possible risks.
“The committee has also concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events, or blood clots.
“If it were me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow.”
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said it had determined that the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “firmly outweigh the risks”.
She added: “You should continue to receive your vaccine when you get the call or the second dose as soon as you’re contacted.”
Meanwhile, the PM said he will pursue a permanent national memorial to remember the victims of the pandemic.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference the Government will “certainly be pursuing” the creation of a tribute.
But Number 10 said there are “no further details” yet on what this might look like and when it will be unveiled.
Mr Johnson also said he would be marking the first anniversary of the lockdown on March 23.
He said: “On the anniversary, of course I’ll be marking it, as I’m sure millions of others will around the country.
“And on the idea for a national memorial – yes, we will certainly be pursuing that, and a lot of good suggestions have already come in, and you’ll be hearing more about that in due course.”
The PM has previously backed plans for a national day of reflection marking the anniversary of the first lockdown. The Marie Curie charity is planning a day of reflection on March 23 to remember those who have died – exactly a year since we were first told to stay at home.
The Daily Express has backed the event.
It will include a minute’s silence at 12pm followed by a bell toll. People are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that 33 blossoming trees, representing each of the capital’s boroughs, will form the centrepiece of a new public garden at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to commemorate those who have died in the capital.
A further 91 deaths and 6,303 coronavirus cases were reported yesterday.
A total of 125,926 people have now died with the virus in the UK, according to the Government’s latest figures.