Suspension of AstraZeneca shots is 'political decision': Italy's medicines regulator head

Vials labelled with broken sticker "AstraZeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a broken syringe are seen in front of a displayed EU flag in this illustration taken March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

ROME (Reuters) - The decision by Germany, France and Italy to suspend AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shots after several countries reported possible serious side-effects is a “political one”, the director general of Italy’s medicines authority AIFA said on Tuesday.

“We got to the point of a suspension because several European countries, including Germany and France, preferred to interrupt vaccinations... to put them on hold in order to carry out checks. The choice is a political one,” Nicola Magrini told daily la Repubblica in an interview.

Magrini said that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and that the benefit to risk ratio of the jab is “widely positive”. There have been eight deaths and four cases of serious side-effects following vaccinations in Italy, he added.

Aifa will take two to three days to collect all required data and once “doubts are cleared we can carry on at a faster speed than before,” Magrini said.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti