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Finland continues using AstraZeneca jab, waits for EMA decision

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to make a decision on the use of the vaccine on Thursday.

File photo of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca. Image: AFP

Negative side effects from the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine reported in other countries have not been seen in Finland, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Tuesday.

The health agency said Finland would continue to use the vaccine, despite that several countries have suspended its use due to concerns about blod clots in a small number of people who received the jab.

The THL said it was awaiting findings from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) about the vaccine's safety. So far, the EMA has not recommended discontinuing its use.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said the agency is continuing to evaluate the vaccine and consult with specialists, with a further announcement expected on Thursday.

Cooke added that she remains "firmly convinced" the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

"There is no indication vaccination has caused these [blood clotting] conditions," Cooke said.

Cooke noted that side effects likel blood clots were also not observed in clinical trials of the vaccine.

"We take the reports [of blood clots] very seriously. This is an ongoing process which requires a thorough and detailed analysis.

Cooke said the EMA would make an announcement about the investigation into the vaccine on Thursday, likely in the afternoon.

The EMA had previously said that as of 10 March, there were a total of 30 cases of patients with blood clots among the nearly five million individuals who had received the AstraZeneca jab within the EEA, according to news agency Reuters.

List of countries suspending use of AstraZeneca vaccine grows

On Tuesday, health authorities in Sweden announced plans to pause its use, but it was unclear whether the suspension was temporary or permanent.

Several other countries, including Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy have suspended its use over concerns of bleeding and blood clots in people who received the jab. Norway and Denmark also suspended use of the vaccine last week due to side effect concerns.

But as of Tuesday, global health officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) still supported using the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Health officials from the UN and EU are to meet this week about the matter, according to a UN bulletin. Meanwhile, it said that the WHO's Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety planned to discuss the issue with the EMA on Tuesday.