UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford / AstraZeneca on March 19, 2021 in London, UK.
Frank Augstein | Pool | Reuters
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Friday, his office said in a statement to reassure the public that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Johnson, 56, has urged other people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, citing data from the UK’s Independent Medicines Agency which suggests the benefits far outweigh the risks.
A number of countries around the world have suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure after blood clots were reported in some people who had been vaccinated. Health experts sharply criticized the move, citing a lack of data, while analysts expressed concerns about the impact on vaccine uptake as the virus continues to spread.
UK and EU regulators said there was no evidence that the vaccine caused blood clots. The World Health Organization also said the benefits of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweigh the risks and recommended vaccinations should continue.
Speaking at a conference on Downing Street Thursday, Johnson said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, but “what isn’t safe is catching covid, which is why it’s so important that we all get our thrusts as soon as we can it’s our turn comes. “
The British leader himself was hospitalized for Covid in April and spent days in an intensive care unit.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain are among the European countries that say they will use the vaccine again after the European Medicines Agency declares it safe and effective. Indonesia, which previously delayed administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, announced on Friday that it has approved its use.
However, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have announced that they will continue to stop using the vaccine while they conduct their own independent reviews.
The UK, which has not interrupted the launch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, said delays in vaccine supplies next month would not affect England’s roadmap.
A health worker holds a box of the AstraZeneneca vaccine at the Bamrasnaradura Institute for Infectious Diseases in Nonthaburi Province on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Chaiwat subprasome | SOPA pictures | LightRocket via Getty Images
The National Health Service warned of a “significant reduction” in the weekly supply of Covid vaccines in England next month after fewer doses than originally expected had arrived from India.
Johnson said there was “no change” to the government’s plan to relax restrictive public health measures and insisted the roadmap was “on track” despite an unexpected drop in supply.
To date, more than 4.2 million people in the UK have contracted Covid with 126,163 deaths. This is based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.