Matt Hancock announces Covid press conference: What the Health Secretary is expected to say

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will lead a Downing Street press conference later on Wednesday, No 10 has said.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:11 pm

It comes as the Health Secretary has sought to reassure the public the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, insisting there is no evidence the coronavirus jab has caused blood clots after some European nations halted its rollout.

The Health Secretary urged the public to come forward and get the jab as the the European Medicines Agency (EMA) conducts a full scientific review – with France, Germany, Spain and Italy pausing their programmes.

The regulator, which approved the vaccine for the EU, says it currently “remains convinced” that the “benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risk”.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the nation during a virtual Coronavirus press conference (Photo by Trevor Adams - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It is due to offer a further update on Thursday after several European countries halted its use due to reports of some people suffering blood clots following vaccination.

Mr Hancock told broadcasters: “The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is safe, we know that over 10 million people have had it in this country, and that’s what the British regulator says but also the World Health Organisation and even the European regulator.

“We keep the effects of these vaccines under review all the time and we know that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is saving lives in the UK right now so if you get the call, get the jab.”

The Health Secretary added in an article for The Sun that “there is no evidence that vaccines caused these clots”.

His message came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a new statement saying it was also evaluating the reports, but still believed the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed any risks.

Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, told a press briefing on Tuesday there was “no indication” that the vaccine was the cause of the “very rare” reported blood clots.

“The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population,” she added.

Ms Cooke said 30 cases of blood clots had been reported to the EMA by March 10 among almost five million people vaccinated, but additional cases had been reported over the weekend.

She said there would be an increase in the reporting of such cases due to the publicity surrounding the current reports.