Slow-moving COVID vaccination campaigns across Europe got a shot in the arm Friday when many nations resumed administering the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Several countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Germany, paused AstraZeneca vaccinations earlier this week after 37 of more than 17 million recipients reported blood clots.
The EU’s vaccine regulator investigated the cases and announced Thursday that it found no link between the vaccine and the clots, giving countries the go-ahead to resume using the AstraZeneca shot.
The European Medicines Agency said the number of blood clots detected was even lower than what would occur naturally.
Shots developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are being distributed throughout Europe. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot has been approved as well, but not yet delivered. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved in the U.S.
European leaders attempted to inspire confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine by getting it themselves, the Associated Press reported. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Slovenian President Borut Pahor were all injected Friday.
Unlike many EU nations, the U.K. never paused its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Britain’s inoculation campaign has also outpaced its continental neighbors.
“I literally did not feel a thing and so it was very good, very quick and I cannot recommend it too highly,” said the 56-year-old Johnson, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in April. “Everybody, when you get your notification for a jab, please go and get it. It is the best thing for you, the best thing for your family and for everybody else.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper and easier to store than those developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It’s expected to be crucial to ending the pandemic worldwide, and health experts worried that the European pauses would lead to more vaccine hesitancy across the globe.
The vaccination resumption occurs as new daily COVID cases have steadily increased across much of Europe in recent days, with almost every nation east of Spain seeing higher numbers, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.