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Pausing AstraZeneca jab the ‘right thing to do’, says Irish Government adviser

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Professor Karina Butler said the use of the vaccine has been paused in an “abundance of caution”.

“We and other countries – the Netherlands Germany, Italy – have paused, and it is just a pause, the use of AstraZeneca,” she said.

“It is about a slight deferral to make sure that we are doing the right thing, using appropriately and giving it to the right people.”

Earlier Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said 30,000 people due to receive the AstraZeneca jab this week will have their vaccinations rescheduled in the next few weeks.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to complete its safety review of issues relating to the jab later this week.

Professor Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), said it was not an easy decision to pause.

“This isn’t about just the normal clots that can occur, it was about a few, very particular and rare conditions occurring, clustering together, for example the three cases in Norway were in a single hospital within a two-week period, that just made one say, ‘we need to stop and think’,” she said.

“These things can happen by chance, so we just have to wait for the outcome (of the EMA investigation).

“It is a risk balance in everything and here, it seemed justified to make that pause until we got a sense of what the risk was. It might end up this is an absolutely infinitesimally small risk.

“Covid itself is a very real risk… what we’re just doing by this pause is getting to know, ‘is there a risk on the other end of it, and it is so small that this far outweighs it?”

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