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Health Canada follows European regulators in backing AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

March 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s health department on Thursday joined its European counterparts in backing AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine, saying the shots were not associated with an overall increase in blood clots.

“Health Canada confirms that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in protecting Canadians from COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks,” the regulator said in a statement.

“To date in Canada, there has been one report of a stroke that occurred in an individual following vaccination,” the regulator said. “This case has been assessed by Health Canada and determined not to be related to the vaccine.”

Earlier, the European Union said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and British regulators said its use should continue, after reports of rare blood clots prompted over a dozen countries to suspend the use of the vaccine.

Germany, France and other European nations have since announced plans to resume using the vaccine.

Health Canada also said it had assessed available data on the events and had determined the shot was not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.

The country is using AstraZeneca doses made at the Serum Institute of India. It has received 500,000 doses and expects to get 1.5 million more by May. (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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