The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.
The head of the European Medicines Agency said Tuesday that health regulators remained “firmly convinced” that the benefits of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine outweighed the risks amid concerns that the shots caused blood clots in some people.
An expert panel is investigating the potential link between vaccinations and a small number of extremely rare brain clots, and it is slated to release its conclusions Thursday, Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director, said at a news conference. There is “no indication” that the vaccine caused the events, but the agency’s scientists are trying to establish whether there is a causal link, Cooke said.
Although overall cases of blood clots among those vaccinated did not appear higher than in the general population, the agency’s investigation will focus on the rarer brain clots.
Several European countries suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine after the reports of clotting. Globally, the vaccine’s distribution remained undisturbed, according to the World Health Organization, which maintains that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Here are some significant developments:
- After weeks of declining coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations, new hot spots of infection have emerged in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Experts warn the spread of a more dangerous variant and a rush to return to normal life could prolong the pandemic.
- U.S. health officials under President Donald Trump worked to convince Brazil to reject Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the federal government disclosed in a January document that was largely overlooked until this week.
- The past five days have marked the busiest period for air travel since the start of the pandemic, giving hope to the beleaguered airline industry but raising fears among health experts of plane-fueled virus spikes.
- The Federal Aviation Administration will extend its “zero tolerance” policy on flouting pandemic safety guidelines for as long as the federal mask mandate is in place. The FAA is investigating more than 450 cases of bad behavior by flight passengers.
- Biotechnology company Moderna announced Tuesday that the first children received shots in a trial that will test its coronavirus vaccine on minors ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years old.