AstraZeneca vaccine may be approved too late in US to be used in pandemic fight

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It may have caused brief concern across the European Union, but the company behind the vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford said it is both safe for use and effective.

AstraZeneca said its vaccine is 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection and keeps the most severe infections away, but its administration was paused amid concern that some people who had been given the vaccine developed blood clots.

Have questions about the coronavirus vaccine? We have an entire section dedicated to vaccine coverage. CLICK HERE for more.

It was later determined by medical regulators to have no linkage. Administration of the vaccine ultimately was resumed.

“In many tens of thousands of people there were essentially no serious, adverse effects,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease expert at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

“I think the numbers are extremely small in these blood clots—even smaller than you might expect in the population. … There were no clots seen in the group that was studied here in the United States,” Threlkeld said.

The company behind the vaccine will seek FDA emergency use authorization to enable it to become the fourth vaccine used in the country, a timeline that could take weeks to complete.

TRENDING: Open Carry bill moves forward in Tennessee

On that timeline, it meant approval may not come until May, a point at which President Joe Biden has said there will be enough of the three existing vaccines to vaccinate every person in the country.

“It may be that its approval will come a little bit late for it to pick up a lot of use in the US,” Threlkeld said.

However, an authorization could bolster confidence in this vaccine in other nations that can still use it, said Threlkeld.

AstraZeneca wants to release 30 million doses of its vaccine to the United States if approved by U.S. Regulators. The Biden administration has already said it plans to send millions of doses to Canada and Mexico.