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Photo: Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images

France, Germany, Italy and Spain on Monday became the latest countries to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as EU regulators investigate reports of blood clots in recipients, joining Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland and several others.

The latest: The European Medicines Agency said in a statement it would carry out a" rigorous analysis of all the data related" to blood clots this week, but added: "While its investigation is ongoing, EMA currently remains of the view that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects."

The state of play: AstraZeneca has insisted that its vaccine is safe, and the World Health Organization has cautioned countries against suspending vaccinations. The countries said they were taking the steps as a precautionary measure.

What they're saying: AstraZeneca said in statement Sunday that there have been 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism among the 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom thus far.

  • "This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines," the pharmaceutical company said.
  • "The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety," AstraZeneca's chief medical officer Ann Taylor said.

A World Health Organization spokesperson said Monday: "As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus."

The big picture: AstraZeneca is one of four coronavirus vaccines that have received emergency authorization in the EU, in addition to Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. AstraZeneca has not yet applied for emergency authorization in the U.S., as it awaits data from a large clinical trial.

Go deeper

Super typhoon Surigae explodes to Cat. 5 intensity

Super Typhoon Surigae seen on satellite imagery Saturday morning east of the Philippines. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 190 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change. It weakened slightly, to the equivalent of a strong Category 4 storm, on Sunday.

3 hours ago - World

Biden adviser warns "there will be consequences" for Russia if Navalny dies

The Biden administration warned the Russian government "that there will be consequences" if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

The big picture: Sullivan also defended President Biden for not mentioning Navalny in a Thursday speech about Russia or in a Tuesday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the White House aims to deal with the issue "privately and through diplomatic channels."

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday. Police responded to the shooting at around 12:42 a.m. and the suspect has not been found.

The big picture: The midnight shooting is the latest in a string of deadly mass shootings to hit the U.S. since March, fueling a debate in Washington about how to regulate the weapons.