Europe’s pause on the AstraZeneca vaccine is worrying

Global health and medicines watchdogs, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Public Health England and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), have said there is no evidence of a link between the vaccine and the blood clots. Many experts have pointed out the fact that the number of incidents involving blood clots in people already vaccinated with the shot — fewer than 40 in 17 million — is lower than it would be expected in general population.

“The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects,” the EMA said in a statement yesterday.

But these assurances from health bodies, as well as AstraZeneca itself, have done little to dispel the worries. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and around a dozen other countries have now halted AstraZeneca vaccinations, although they all stressed this was a precautionary step.

The French Health Minister Olivier Véran tried to reassure people who have received the shot in the past, stressing they “are not in danger.”

The wave of suspensions across Europe has now triggered new reviews by the WHO and the EMA. WHO’s vaccine safety experts are meeting today to address the issue and the EMA said its safety committee will also review the data today. It has also called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday.

But even if the watchdogs fully endorse the vaccine once again, the damage might have been done.

In some European countries, the shot has already been seen as a ‘second-class vaccine'” because of its slightly lower efficacy rates compared to its competitors and because some countries initially decided not to offer the vaccine to older people, citing a lack of data. The ugly spat between the UK and the EU over the supplies of the vaccine didn’t help to boost its reputation either.
The potential knock-on effect of this episode on vaccine hesitancy is also worrying on a global level. The AstraZeneca shot is a key piece in the worldwide vaccination master plan because it’s cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals.


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A concerning variant is ‘about to become dominant in the US’

At least a dozen US states have eased Covid-19 restrictions this month, often citing improving trends and growing vaccination numbers. But experts are worried some Americans are letting up too early — at a critical time when cases of a more dangerous new variant of the virus are spiking.

The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK, is projected to become the dominant strain in the US by the end of this month or early April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday. It has so far been found in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, according to CDC data.

Brazil’s Covid-19 resurgence is pushing hospitals to overflowing

When Dineia Martins Firmino entered the hospital in São Paulo at the beginning of March, doctors intubated the 74-year-old, and told her family that she desperately needed to be moved to an ICU. She never made it. “No vacancy appeared at the time she needed it and she ended up dying on Saturday,” her granddaughter Pamela Rivitti said. “We did the funeral on Sunday.”

The ferocious new wave of the coronavirus that claimed Firmino’s life is inundating ICUs in São Paulo and across Brazil. As of Sunday, 21 Brazilian states and the Federal District had an ICU occupancy rate of over 80%. Of those, 14 were on the verge of collapsing with an occupation above 90%.

Covid-19 vaccine ads expected soon as part of $250 million Biden administration campaign

In the next few weeks, the Biden administration will launch a national vaccine promotional campaign aimed at encouraging hesitant Americans to get immunized, a marketing executive close to the project told CNN.

The advertisements are part of a $250 million Covid-19 education campaign run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which will include a podcast hosted by “a well-known person” outside of government, the executive said.



Pent-up frustration from being stuck at home for a year and summer on the horizon haves left many of us itching to go on vacation as soon as it’s safe, but that means navigating a labyrinth of regulations on who’s allowed to go where, quarantines on arrival, vaccine requirements and health risks.

CNN Travel’s Unlocking the Word guides can help steer you through the maze, offering advice on specific destinations and everything you need to know as you make plans to hit the road.


“The interest in translating science into a survival was what we shared and why at some point we decided to do this journey together.” — Dr. Ozlem Tureci

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first Covid-19 shot to be authorized for use. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down with Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Ozlem Tureci, the husband-and-wife team who designed the vaccine. Listen now.

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