Oxford University backs the benefits of its vaccine
A professor at Oxford University, where the AstraZeneca vaccine was developed, has emphasised that the benefits of the jab outweigh the risks.
Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, says safety has been a priority throughout the vaccine's development last year.
He says: "We are reassured to see that safety monitoring continues under the close scrutiny of regulators and public health authorities as the vaccine is rolled out around the world.
"The identification of rare cases of blood clots, which might be associated with the vaccine, shows that the safety system works, and has also allowed MHRA and EMA to conclude that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks, while putting in measures to help mitigate any possible risk.
"The pandemic coronavirus continues to be a huge threat to people throughout the world, and we continue with our mission to support global vaccination, not for profit, for the benefit of humanity."
'No time to think about vaccines in Brazil'
As Europe considers the next steps over possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, let's turn to a country in Latin America where the ravages of the pandemic are so bad that such issues feel remote right now.
We've already reported about the crisis in Brazil where the daily number of Covid-related deaths passed 4,000 for the first time.
Dr Pedro Hallal, an epidemiologist from the Federal University of Pelotas in the south of the country, has now described people's desperation in an interview for BBC World Service.
“Our situation is so severe now, with the cases, deaths and ICU [intensive care unit] occupancy, that we pretty much don’t have time to think about the vaccines," he said.
"Unfortunately that is not a priority right now – which is difficult to understand, but this is where we are in Brazil. It’s impossible to be positive nowadays in Brazil.
“Most Brazilian scientists are saying that if the world doesn’t focus on Brazil right now, then maybe the vaccination [success] in other countries might be lost, if a new variant is likely to develop here in Brazil."
AZ vaccine: How do you weigh up the risks and benefits?
BBC head of statistics
PA MediaCopyright: PA Media
Before weighing up the risks and benefits, the first
question is “how rare”?
Based on today’s data from the UK regulator, you might
expect a one-in-a-million chance of a fatal clot after vaccination.
That’s roughly the same as your chance of getting murdered
in the next month or the additional risk of dying that driving 250 miles gives
And that’s why the regulators are describing it as “very
We don't know enough to be able to plug data into a
calculator and get a simple, exact answer tailored to you.
But for anyone at relatively high risk of catching
coronavirus or at higher risk of dying if they do catch it, the benefits
outstrip the risks pretty clearly.
As England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty says “the
closer you get to someone who's right down at 20, and otherwise blameless in
their health, the more you have to think through these really very rare side
Which countries have restricted the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab?
The EU's medicines regulator has said unusual blood clots should be listed as a possible very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab, but that the benefits outweigh the risks.
It follows the restriction of the vaccine's use in some European countries, including now Belgium which, as we reported earlier, is temporarily limiting the jab to the over-55s.
Blackpool Air Show cancelled for second year
Visit BlackpoolCopyright: Visit Blackpool
Blackpool's annual summer air show has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to coronavirus.
The free event, which attracts up to 100,000 visitors, was due to be staged on the seafront on 7 and 8 August.
But event organisers Visit Blackpool says there's too much uncertainty over the staging of mass events.
"There is no clear picture on how free-to-access outdoor events can benefit from proposed mitigation measures such as testing or any form of certification to reduce the risk of infection," a Visit Blackpool spokesman says.
Belgium to temporarily limit Oxford-AstraZeneca jab to over-55s
Belgium has announced it is restricting AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to over-55s temporarily, as a precaution, after the EU medicines agency reported a possible link to rare forms of blood clots.
The EU agency stressed that the overall benefits of administering the jab outweighed the risks.
France has also limited the jab to the over-55s, Germany to the over-60s, and Sweden to the over-65s.
EU health ministers discuss rollout after jab findings
Health ministers from the EU's 27 member states have been meeting by video link to discuss how the Covid-19 vaccine rollout will proceed after the bloc's medicines agency supported continuing use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
"Our decisions on vaccine rollouts should be based on science and with the safety of citizens at the centre," Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner for health, tweeted as talks got under way.
"The AstraZeneca experience shows that our pharmacovigilance system works. But is essential that we follow a coordinated approach across the EU.
We must speak with one voice across the EU to improve public trust in vaccinations," she added.
The European Medicines Agency concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as "very rare side effects" and the "overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects".
'Will a second jab affect my Long Covid recovery?'
BBC Radio 5 Live
Angela, in Whitby, is suffering from Long Covid and had a severe allergic reaction to her first vaccine. She says it brought back her Long Covid symptoms, such as fatigue, and set back her recovery.
She asked BBC Radio 5 Live's Your Call earlier: "I’m going to have my second jab in six weeks' time and I’m concerned about the likely reaction. Is it likely to affect my future recovery of Long Covid?"
Answering Angela’s question, Dr Simon Clarke, Professor in Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: "I have heard of no examples of the second jab causing significant problems - I wouldn’t worry too much about that."
Encouraging her to go ahead with her second dose of the vaccine, he added: "If you did have Covid last year, the chance is your immunity has remained and if you pick it up again, that will probably cause you much more of a problem than the vaccine ever will."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new recommendations on the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would not require England's road map out of lockdown to change.
On a visit to Cornwall, he told reporters: "These vaccines are safe, they've saved many thousands of lives and people should come forward to get their jabs and we'll make sure that they get the right jabs."
"I don't see any reason at this stage at all to think we need to deviate from the road map. And we're also very secure about our supply," he added.
Watch: Woman 'thrilled' to be first in UK to get Moderna jab
Earlier today we brought you the news that an unpaid carer had become the first person in the UK to get the Moderna vaccine.
Elle Taylor, 24, from Ammanford, had the jab at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.
In the video below she says she was "thrilled" to be the first person to get the jab, so she can care for her grandmother safely.
Camilla helps with vaccine rollout
The Duchess of Cornwall has been visiting a vaccination centre in Tottenham, north London, where she helped prepare Pfizer vaccines.
Camilla, who had the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this year, also visited the London Islamic Cultural Society at Wightman Road Mosque to learn about its work supporting the community during the pandemic.
PA MediaCopyright: PA Media
Hospital staff relieved as Covid case numbers fall
We've been catching up with staff on the emergency ward at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
They told us it had become "a Covid ward for nearly a year" but when we visited there were only only four people being treated for coronavirus.
Staff said they were relieved to see fewer cases coming into the hospital but University Hospitals Dorset bosses said it was now time to prepare for the possibility of a third wave of the virus.
Long Covid: 'I'm grieving the person I used to be'
Jasmine HayerCopyright: Jasmine Hayer
Health coach Jasmine Hayer has given up her life in London and moved back in with her parents after catching Covid.
Now she is focusing on a twin goal - battling back to health while helping others get the right treatment for Long Covid.
Last March, she suffered a month of "hell", stuck at home with Covid, terrified as she struggled to catch a breath.
Since then, the symptoms she has experienced include weight loss, irregular menstrual cycles, acid reflux, an increased heart rate, palpitations and insomnia.
"Long Covid has basically destroyed me," she says. "It has left me physically and mentally imprisoned.
"I am a shell of myself and I am grieving the person I used to be. But I am fighting back."
UK on track to offer all adults first dose by end of July - Hancock
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also reacted to today's announcements, reiterating that the UK and European regulators have both confirmed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is "safe, effective and that the benefits far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults".
Hancock adds the UK is "on track" to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July and urges people to get the vaccine when they are offered it.
"This is the excellence of UK institutions in action: clear, transparent communication of advice based on the best quality science," he says in a tweet.