Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and a member of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, issued the warning after Denmark became the first country to stop using the AZ jab because of growing evidence that it is linked to very rare blood clots.
He stressed that only around 15 per cent of the country’s population had so far been vaccinated.
“The only vaccine that they have got really available to vaccinate widely will be the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he told Sky News.
“If they get hit by the 117 variant which is the Kent variant in the way that Germany has, and France has, then they will have a lot of dead people, many, many, many more dead people than they would have had if they had used the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“I don’t think it’s up to us to say what other countries should do..they have to make their own decisions.
“But to be clear, they have to live with those decisions and that may be more difficult as reality sinks in.”
Denmark’s decision will push back the scheduled conclusion of its vaccination scheme to early August from July 25, health authorities said.
But that new timeline assumes it will start using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, whose rollout in Europe has been delayed over similar clotting concerns and the use of which Denmark has suspended. That shot comprises around a third of the country’s total contracted supply.
Results of investigations into the AstraZeneca-associated blood clots “showed real and serious side-effects,” Danish health agency head Soren Brostrom told a news briefing yesterday.
“We have therefore chosen to continue the vaccination programme for all target groups without this vaccine.”
The European Union’s drug watchdog said last week it had found a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a brain blood clot.
It said the risk of dying from Covid-19 was much greater than the risk of mortality from rare side effects, but left it to individual states to make their own risk assessments and decide how to administer the vaccine.
Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have resumed using the shot, with some restricting it to certain age groups, mostly those aged above 50 or above 60.