The UK is “100% confident in the efficacy” of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after Germany suspended its use in the under-60s over concerns about rare blood clots.
“It is a safe vaccine and the UK’s vaccine rollout is saving people’s lives right across the country every day,” Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News.
He said the COVID-19 jab’s effectiveness was “borne out by study after study”.
The EU medicines regulator and the World Health Organisation have also both insisted the vaccine is safe and effective.
Mr Jenrick said: “Recent research, for example by Public Health England, has shown that thousands of people’s lives have been saved since the start of this year alone thanks to our vaccine programme.
“People should continue to go forward and get the vaccine. I certainly will when my time comes.”
Germany has decided to only give the jab to people aged 60 or older – unless they are at high risk from COVID-19 or are health workers, following a recommendation from the country’s vaccine panel.
Its medical regulator released new data showing 31 unusual blood clots, linked to nine deaths, were reported in the country up until Monday.
Tens of millions of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been safely given out around the world and Germany has administered 2.7 million doses, highlighting that such incidents remain very rare.
It has joined Canada, Sweden, France and Finland in pausing the vaccine for its younger population until more data is gathered.
The suspensions go against the findings of the EU’s drugs regulator, which concluded the vaccine was “safe and effective” after investigating the blood clotting incidents.
The European Medicines Agency said the benefits outweighed the tiny risk – given the prevalence and dangers of COVID-19 – and ruled the vaccine did not increase the overall number of blood clots in the population.
It did not, however, rule out a link between the shot and some unusual kinds of clots.
Scientists have also pointed out that COVID-19 itself can cause blood clotting, as well as factors such as pregnancy and the contraceptive pill.
AstraZeneca said tens of millions of people had received its vaccine and that large clinical trials had shown no increase in blood clotting events.
It added it would continue to work with German authorities and would analyse its own records to understand whether the clots were occurring more commonly than “would be expected naturally in a population of millions of people”.