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Photo: Guillermo Guterrez Carrascal/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The European Medical Agency (EMA) said on Friday that people who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine should get the second one, reiterating that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.

The big picture: EMA's decision comes after several countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the agency's assessment of a "possible link" between the shot and rare blood clots. EMA recommended the condition be listed as a "very rare" side effect.

  • The Swedish Health Agency said this week that people under 65 who have received their first AstraZeneca dose should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose instead.
  • The U.K., which has relied heavily on AstraZeneca in its world-leading vaccine rollout, has recommended that people under the age of 30 receive either Pfizer or Moderna.

What they're saying: EMA’s human medicines committee "considered recommendations to give the second dose of Vaxzevria [AstraZeneca] after a longer interval than the recommended 4-12 weeks, to not give a second dose at all, or to give an mRNA vaccine as a second dose," the agency said.

  • "However, there has not been enough exposure and follow-up time to determine whether the risk of blood clots with low blood platelets after a second dose will differ from the risk after the first dose. At present there are no or limited data to change current recommendations."
  • EMA also said there was not enough data to determine who might be more susceptible to blood clots.

Go deeper

Aug 1, 2021 - World

French police and anti-health pass protesters clash in Paris

Scenes in Paris, part of a national day of protest against French legislation mandating pandemic health passes for dining and travel. Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images

Police in Paris deployed tear gas Saturday during clashes with thousands of demonstrators protesting a new law mandating universal vaccinations for health workers and pandemic passes for all restaurants and domestic travel.

The big picture: While thousands of people protested across France, the Washington Post notes that polls show most people in the country back the pandemic measures, introduced to curb spiking COVID-19 cases driven largely by the Delta variant.

  • 52.1% of France's population has been fully vaccinated against the virus as of Friday, according to official figures.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.