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UPDATE 1-French vaccine chief expects AstraZeneca vaccine halt to be temporary

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PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - French vaccination chief Alain Fischer said on Tuesday he expects the suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots to be temporary.

Germany, France and Italy said on Monday they would suspend AstraZeneca inoculations after several countries reported possible serious side-effects, but the World Health Organization said there was no proven link and people should not panic.

Fischer told France Inter radio that the number of cases of people showing adverse side-effects was small.

“The ultimate element of analysis is the benefit-risk, whatever happens”, he said.

He also said that Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca’s vaccine was not second tier.

“Vaccination is moving forward. Vaccination is here and will continue,” Fischer said.

Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said France’s decision had been taken in co-ordination with other European countries. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Matthieu Protard, editing by Louise Heavens and Nick Macfie)

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