Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine took yet another public relations hit yesterday, when the European Medicines Agency announced that the shot has a "possible" link to rare blood clots, and they should be listed as a "very rare" side effect of the vaccine.

What we're watching: Even before the link was announced, the U.S. didn't need the AstraZeneca vaccine, based on its existing supply of other shots. But what the Food and Drug Administration decides to do about the vaccine — if the company seeks U.S. authorization — will likely have global ramifications.

Driving the news: The EMA said the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh its risk, STAT reports. “This vaccine has proven to be highly effective to prevent severe disease and hospitalization,” said Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director. “And it is saving lives.”

  • The U.K., however, recommended that people under 30 receive other vaccines, and other European countries have already restricted use of the vaccine to older populations.

Why it matters: The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been plagued by a series of self-imposed mishaps throughout its rollout. Even if blood clots are an exceedingly rare side effect — which experts stress they are — there's risk of further damage to the shot's reputation.

  • "Very serious and very rare side-effects do occur, with essentially every medical intervention ever developed (not just vaccines)," said John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell.
  • "But with the spotlight on Covid-19 vaccines, the public is going to hear 'very serious' and tune out 'very rare.' So, there are going to be major perceptional and confidence problems moving forward."

The big picture: The shot is relatively cheap and easy to make, and is the main shot being used by the COVAX initiative. It's particularly important for developing countries.

  • The U.S., on the other hand, doesn't need the vaccine; it has already purchased more than enough doses of other vaccines to cover its entire population.

Yes, but: What U.S. regulators say about the shot could still have global consequences, especially given its chaotic rollout.

  • "Confidence in the AZ vaccine, which will be informed by the U.S. FDA position, will be critically important for global vaccine efforts," said Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
  • "The U.S. FDA position will likely also impact what happens to the current and future U.S. supply of the AZ vaccine – even if we don’t use them, it would be helpful for the vaccine to have FDA EUA for the U.S. to confidently provide doses, via donations or loans, to other countries," he added.

What we're watching: The company hasn't yet submitted an application for emergency use authorization to the FDA, but it could do so in the coming weeks.

  • If the company does seek FDA authorization, "I think it's unlikely they won't approve it, because despite this rare side effect, it’s a good vaccine," said Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.
  • But even if it still authorizes the shot, it could put age parameters on eligibility.
  • "The [problem] is even if authorized, the U.S. is probably going to be giving away the doses to other countries anyway, which makes the confidence impact more limited," said former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan.

The bottom line: Finding alternatives to the AstraZeneca shot is "a real problem," Moore said.

  • "The one advantage of the AstraZeneca vaccine was its low cost/high production characteristics. Perhaps [Johnson & Johnson] and Novavax can fill some of the gaps that may arise," he wrote in an email, adding that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are "problematic for global roll-out."
  • "Otherwise, as of now, it’s the Russian and Chinese vaccines, and there remain real doubts about their safety, efficacy and production capacity for use on a global scale."

Go deeper

Apr 7, 2021 - Health

EU regulator finds "possible" link between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots

Photo: Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded Wednesday that "unusual blood clots with low blood platelets" should be listed as a "very rare" side effect of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, but that the benefits of the shot still outweigh the risks.

Why it matters: The AstraZeneca vaccine is the centerpiece of the global COVAX initiative, and one of the very few vaccines that is available, affordable and easy to store for many developing countries.

Apr 7, 2021 - Health

Vaccine shopping can be surprisingly easy

Expand chart
Reproduced from KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor; Chart: Axios Visuals

Many coronavirus vaccination sites are making it easy for people to shop for the vaccine they want.

Why it matters: Public health officials have advised for months that the best vaccine to get is the one that's first available. But giving people a choice about which shot to get could help improve overall vaccination rates, especially among more hesitant Americans.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Massachusetts to mandate COVID vaccination for long-term care staff — CVS, Walgreens see uptick of people getting COVID vaccines — WHO calls for moratorium on booster shots through September.
  2. Health: Fauci fears a COVID variant worse than Delta could be coming — America's pandemic pessimism returns — Florida counties hold off on adding more testing despite Delta surge.
  3. Politics: Arkansas governor says he regrets banning mask mandatesBiden tells GOP governors who resist COVID rules to "get out of the way" — Florida school district reverses mask mandate after DeSantis' funding threat.
  4. Business: Biden voices support for private sector vaccine requirements — More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated.
  5. World: Israel reinstates restrictions as cases surge— Wuhan to test all residents for COVID-19 amid Delta variant concerns.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!