A good number of EU countries are unhappy with handling the European regulator EMA with a possible dangerous side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Critics say that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) should clarify which groups are more at risk to facilitate the choice or outweigh the benefits of the vaccine. “There is quite a bit of annoyance,” says a source.
Health ministers held an online meeting on Wednesday evening, which also included the EMA. They considered, among other things, the vaccine from AstraZeneca. Earlier in the day, the EMA again concluded that it is possible to puncture it, even though it is likely that the vaccine occasionally leads to blood clotting problems.
The regulator did not yet see any reason to advise against the vaccine for young women, even though the combination of thrombosis and a platelet deficiency seems to occur more often in them.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Latvia and Denmark, among others, would have preferred that the EEA “had not kept itself so low,” says an initiate in one of these capitals. “We wanted it to have made a more thorough analysis of the risk of side effects by age group,” says Belgian minister Frank Vandenbroucke. He “wasn’t the only one to say that yesterday”.
According to insiders, ministers complained that the regulator provides too little insight into the figures and how the EMA communicates. Policymakers and citizens would not know where they stand.
Belgium, Italy and Spain decided on Wednesday to only give the AstraZeneca vaccine to the elderly for the time being. The Netherlands will decide on this on Thursday evening. Member states, meanwhile, do not want to tamper with the position of the EMA as a guide for European vaccination policy, says the source. They want the agency to do a better job.