Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street on March 18, 2021 in London, England.
Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool | Getty Images
LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday is expected to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, seeking to reassure the public that the vaccine is both safe and effective.
Johnson, 56, has urged other people to get inoculated against Covid-19, citing data from the U.K.’s independent drug regulator that shows the benefits far outweigh the risks.
A flurry of countries around the world had suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure following reports of blood clots in some vaccinated people. Health experts sharply criticized the move, citing a lack of data, while analysts expressed concern about the impact on vaccine uptake as the virus continues to spread.
U.K. and EU regulators have said there was no evidence the Covid vaccine had caused blood clots. The World Health Organization also said the benefits of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks and had recommended that vaccinations continue.
Speaking at a Downing Street conference on Thursday, Johnson said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, but “the thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid, which is why it is so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.”
The U.K. leader was himself treated in hospital for Covid-19 in April last year and spent days in an intensive care unit.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex is also expected to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain are among some of those in Europe that say they will resume using the vaccine after Europe’s drug regulator declared it safe and effective. Indonesia, which had previously delayed administering the shot, said on Friday it had approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Norway, Sweden and Denmark, however, have said they will continue to halt their use of the vaccine while they conduct their own independent reviews.
The U.K., which did not pause its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, said delays to its vaccine supply next month would not impact England’s roadmap out of lockdown.
A health worker holds a box of the AstraZeneneca vaccine at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Chaiwat Subprasom | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images
The National Health Service had warned about a “significant reduction” in the weekly supply of Covid vaccines in England next month, after fewer doses than initially expected had arrived from India.
Johnson said there was “no change” to the government’s plan to ease restrictive public health measures, insisting the roadmap was “on track” despite an unexpected drop in vaccine supply.
To date, more than 4.2 million people have contracted Covid in the U.K., with 126,163 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.