UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was just as safe as the Pfizer version, both of which are being rolled out in Britain, and that he would be having his Astra jab on Friday.
"The thing that isn't safe is catching COVID which is why it's so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes," Johnson told a news conference in Downing Street.
"As it happens I'm getting mine tomorrow, and the centre where I'm getting jabbed is currently using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine ... and that is the one I'll be having", he added.
Bragging about Britain's vaccination drive, the prime minister said they had immunised more than "the entire population of many countries".
Britain will receive fewer COVID-19 vaccines in April than it did in March, but is still on course to hit its target of immunising all adults who volunteer for a jab by the end of July, as planned, Johnson claimed. He said the shift in schedule was down to a delay in a shipment from India's Serum Institute and the need to get a batch retested in the UK, after increased concern about certain supposed side effects from the AstraZeneca inoculation.
"The supply we do have will still enable us to hit the targets we have set", he went on to promise.
A number of countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine after reports that the jab could cause blood clotting. Separately, there have been reports of unexpected deaths among those who were inoculated with the UK-Swedish vaccine, raising grave concerns about about its general safety.
The European Medicines Agency stated on Thursday that it had not found any direct connection between the AstraZeneca shot and blood clots developing in people who have received it. Yet, the watchdog added it would continue to study the possible connection between the vaccine and venous thromboembolism.
The WHO for its part hasn't backtracked on its earlier guidelines, reiterating recommendations to use the AstraZeneca shot to obtain immunity from the novel coronavirus, and suggesting that the benefits probably outweigh its risks.