Multiple nations within the EU had suspended their use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine over reports of dangerous blood clots, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, France, Estonia and Denmark.
According to several EU officials interviewed by Bloomberg, the decisions taken to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine were done without any coordination with any other EU nations.
Even officials working directly for the EU in Brussels, Belgium, were not notified. While many of these nations have already indicated their willingness to lift the suspension, including Italy and France, the damage has already been done. The lack of coordination between EU member states has already eroded the bloc's reputation and shattered the appearance of unity.
"It looks like quite an uncoordinated, spontaneous decision, perhaps out of political nervousness," said Guntran Wolff, director of Bruegel, a pro-European economic think tank based in Brussels.
During an appearance on Bloomberg Television, Wolff said that the AstraZeneca suspensions have "devastated" the continent's vaccine rollout. The inoculation of the continent is already slow, especially when compared to other nations that are not part of the 27-nation bloc, such as the United Kingdom.
"The EU's vaccine rollout, or lack thereof, will have long-lasting effects on European politics, could see incumbent governments lose power, and could hinder economic recovery particularly in worst-hit countries," said Camino Mortera, a senior research fellow at the Center for European Reform.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU's main pharmaceuticals regulator, has continually insisted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe. The EMA also claimed that the move to suspend the vaccine risked undermining the trust of Europeans in inoculations. The EMA's heads met on Thursday to review the data provided to it regarding the deadliness of the AstraZeneca shot.
"Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons," argued the EMA. The agency said that the incidence of blood clots in recently vaccinated people "seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population."
Blood clots can travel throughout the body and cause deadly conditions such as blockages in the lungs, heart attacks and strokes. AstraZeneca has reported at least 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis, a clot that usually forms in the legs, and 22 pulmonary embolisms, or clots in the lungs.
Multiple Europeans have died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, including at least two in Italy and one in Spain. Despite this, health officials in the EMA said after a short meeting that the vaccine was "safe and effective" and it didn't increase the risk of blood clots. The EMA conducted an "expert analysis" and concluded that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed its potential risks.
Dr. Sabine Straus, chair of the EMA's safety committee even argued that, since blood clots are associated with COVID-19, inoculating people with the AstraZeneca vaccine will "likely reduce the risk of thrombotic incidents overall."
Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, further said that the agency's experts have found some blood clots that require further study, and the agency "still cannot rule out definitively a link."
Health authorities within the EU hope that the EMA's statement could revive their problem-ridden vaccination campaigns, but it remains to be seen whether the "expert analysis" will overcome the rational skepticism Europeans have developed regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"We trust that, after the regulators' careful decisions, vaccinations can once again resume across Europe," said Ann Tayler, chief medical officer of AstraZeneca.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after the EMA's announcement that the country would resume providing residents with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Portugal, Spain and France also agreed to end the suspensions they have placed on the vaccine.
Listen to this special Situation Update breaking news episode of the Health Ranger Report, a podcast by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, as he warns people about the ongoing mass vaccination campaigns and how they might be turning vaccinated people into factories that produce "super strains" of the coronavirus.
While European governments may be eager to speed up their mass vaccination campaigns, many Europeans are not as eager to get vaccinated with a potentially dangerous vaccine.
Corinne Graillot, an assistant engineer at a medical school in Paris, has the option of getting vaccinated with AstraZeneca right away, but is instead waiting for a different option.
"They've made such a mess of it that people don't know what to think anymore," she said. "They've flip-flopped so many times."
Lucia Ejarque, a 25-year-old teacher from Madrid, got a high fever and strong headaches for two days after she received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Then the arm where she got the shot started hurting badly and getting inflamed.
"I got very worried," said Ejarque. Her doctor did nothing to reassure her concerns, and said that these symptoms were common and "would likely pass."
"I just hope the pain disappears quickly," she said.
Learn the truth about how deadly the AstraZeneca vaccine really is by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.