The decision to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine this week is “very disturbing” and will put thousands of vulnerable people at risk, according to Professor Luke O’Neill.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) decided to pause the rollout of the vaccine over the weekend.
It said the decision was ‘precautionary’ amid reports that four people in Norway suffered blood clots after getting the jab.
AstraZeneca has said there is ‘no evidence” the cases are linked to the vaccine – and noted that the number of reported blood clots among vaccinated people is actually lower than would be expected among the general population.
It means that 30,000 AstraZeneca doses will not be administered over the coming days – cutting this week’s vaccination target from 80,000 to 50,000.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Trinity Professor Luke O’Neill said he was "disappointed" with the decision to suspend the rollout.
“They are not trusting the science,” he said. “17 million people have had this vaccine and there is no evidence of any kind that it is causing blood clots.
“And even worse, we know the virus itself causes blood clots - there is a high risk of that - so they are putting 30,000 people at risk now who aren’t getting vaccinated this week, so I think it is very disturbing to be honest.”
He said the science “absolutely” vindicates the continued use of the jab.
“The MHRA (The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) of course, they are on the ropes now,” he said.
“Phil Bryan, who is head of the MHRA in the UK, he made a statement last night saying, ‘we are aware of what is happening in Ireland, we are reviewing things all the time.’ He said people should still go ahead and get the vaccine – that is the UK saying that.
“The EMA remember have also said - this was three days ago - they said keep using it because the benefits far outweigh the risks, so, it is just a strange one.
“I guess it typifies what is going on, this hugely cautious approach, but remember there are 30,000 people who won’t get the vaccine this week.
“These are high-risk vulnerable people so they better make their minds up on this one I think.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said a decision on resuming the AstraZeneca rollout will be made later this week.
He said the suspension should not delay any planned easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Meanwhile, the HSE CCO Dr Colm Henry said there ”may well be no association “ between the blood clotting reports and AstraZeneca; however, he insisted the suspension was the “prudent and correct thing to do to.”
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