Vaccination suspension in Europe can be driven by politics as much as science

These political considerations have been raging across the continent for the past few days after someone in Austria who received the AstraZeneca vaccine died after getting blood clots. It was an inconspicuous event, and it nevertheless prompted the country in early March to stop using a group of the vaccine. Other countries soon followed suit and sounded the alarm about new reports of blood clots, which were rare.

Over the past few days, Spanish Health Minister Carolina Dorias has been talking to her counterparts across the continent, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private, according to the ministry official. There was a case of thrombosis in Spain last weekend, and some regions stopped distributing a group of AstraZeneca vaccines amid safety concerns.

But the main motivation was political.

It also seems that France is bowing to pressure to act in unison with its powerful neighbors. It relied on the AstraZeneca vaccine to catch up after the onset of the ice cream, and Olivier Véran, the French health minister, said just days ago that there was ‘no reason to suspend’.

But after Germany made its intentions clear and public, Mr. Macron had a choice to follow suit or be an outlier. And on Tuesday, Mr. Véran his tune. France, he told parliament, had to ‘listen to Europe, listen to all European countries’.

That was the kind of thing that Mr. Speranza, the Italian health minister, was expected to do so after speaking with his counterpart in Germany, in a discussion told by an Italian official about his knowledge.

When Mr. Speranza brings the matter to Prime Minister Draghi, he notes the unbearable public pressure that Italy would face if he only used a vaccine that is considered too dangerous for Europe.

Mr. Draghi, a proponent of European unity, reported to Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and met with Mr. Speranza decides to suspend AstraZeneca until the European Medicines Agency makes it clear.

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