Germany last night became the latest EU member state to halt the rollout of the jab to people under 60 while it probes a link between the vaccine and a small number of cases of blood clots.
UK experts claimed the decision to withhold the British-made jab on the continent due to an extremely rare risk of clotting would lead to fewer Britons coming forward for their vaccine.
Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline it ‘seems likely’ there will be some ‘avoidable deaths’ in the UK on the back of the EU bans.
His comments were echoed by Dr Peter English, a former British Medical Association chief, who slammed EU nations for stoking fears about the vaccine.
He said there was ‘no evidence’ vaccination was behind the clotting, adding: ‘Any decision to withhold the vaccine will directly cause excess, avoidable Covid deaths.’
Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today pleaded with Brits to keep their faith in the AZ jab, pointing out that ‘study after study’ had shown it was safe.
When concerns were first raised about the vaccine’s link to clots earlier this month, GPs in England warned as many as one in 10 patients were either not showing up, asking to cancel or double-checking which jab they were getting before attending their appointment.
There are fears the problem will become more widespread as countries on the continent continue to revolt against the jab.
The EU is currently battling a third Covid wave which has sent several countries back into national lockdowns and is struggling to get its vaccination programme up to speed.
Yet several member states have paused rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a tiny number of inoculated people, predominantly women under 55, suffered deadly brain clots.
The World Health Organization said today it continues to monitor the jab’s safety but the benefit-risk assessment ‘weighs heavily in favour of its use’.
Alejandro Cravioto, chair of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, told a briefing the panel was ‘comfortable’ with the vaccine’s use, since many of the countries using it have safety warning signal systems in place and are not reporting problems.
Germany became the latest country to stop giving the jab to people under the age of 60, after the rare condition was spotted in 31 out of 2.7million vaccinated people — a rate of around one in 90,000.
France and Norway are not allowing under-55s to get AstraZeneca’s vaccine, while Spain has banned its use in under-65s.
AstraZeneca still maintains the clots are not occurring any more frequently than they would in the general population, a claim which has been echoed repeatedly by medical regulators in the UK and EU.
When asked about the effect of the EU’s suspensions on Britain’s vaccine rollout, Dr Clarke told MailOnline: ‘I think it’s fair to say any anti-vaccine worries people here have could be bolstered by attitudes of some European regulators and governments.