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How Europe’s vaccine caution can cost lives

IT DOES NOT take much for people to lose confidence in vaccines. When a few Europeans who had received the Astra­Zeneca (AZ) shot for covid-19 suffered unusual blood clotting that was sometimes fatal, many countries in the European Union stopped using it. They say this shows they take safety seriously. Unfortunately, their caution is more likely to cost lives.

The suspensions began after Norway reported four cases of blood clotting in adults given the AZ vaccine. Similar—and similarly small—reports have come from Denmark, Italy and Austria. Within days at least 16 European countries, including Germany, France and Italy, had called a halt. The World Health Organisation, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the regulator in Britain, where the AZ vaccine has been used most, urged people to keep getting jabbed.

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