The Netherlands has become the latest country to delay the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid concerns it might lead to blood clotting.

Denmark, Iceland and Norway, have already postponed the vaccine programme over the potential side effects.

But AstraZeneca has defended its jab insisting that safety is of “paramount importance” and it continues to monitor the vaccine.

Around 17 million people have now received the vaccine across the EU and the UK and in a statement, the company said there have only been 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and just 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those given the vaccine.

AstraZeneca said these numbers are “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size”.

The company issued a monthly safety report which it said will be made public on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website which is part of the COVID-19 transparency measures which have been introduced.

Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.

“The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the World Health Organization is still urging people to get their vaccine once they receive their invite.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead at the MHRA, said: “We are closely reviewing reports but given the large number of doses administered, and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.”

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