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Madrid residents line up for AstraZeneca shot despite blood clot link

MADRID, April 7 (Reuters) - Madrid residents were broadly confident about AstraZeneca’s coronavirus shot on Wednesday despite European and British regulators finding a potential link between the vaccine and rare brain blood clots.

“If you read any package leaflet for any medicine, there are always problems for a small number of people,” said Pilar Garcia, waiting in line to receive an AstraZeneca shot outside Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano soccer stadium, which is being used as mass vaccination centre.

“I think this is the same thing.”

The European Union’s EMA medicines regulator said on Wednesday said it had reports of 169 brain clots after administering 34 million doses.

“Today has been a very distressing day because of all the news coming from the European Medicines Agency,” said Madrid resident Carmen Ruiz, shortly after receiving an injection.

Despite referring to mixed messages from authorities as an “outrage” she decided to trust the EMA’s advice that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks.

Some countries are only using AstraZeneca on limited age groups and the EMA said European countries should make their own decisions about how to handle the risk, given infection rates and available alternatives.

Before the EMA announced its findings, authorities in the Central Spanish region of Castile and Leon suspended the shot, although the national government decided to carry on with it.

Spain’s health minister is expected to announce new guidelines on the shot after a summit of European health chiefs, and to clarify rules for wearing masks on beaches.

The patchwork of national and regional rules governing the vaccine exasperated 63-year-old Felicidad Gutierrez.

“(They say) it’s no good, in some places it has been suspended, but if we listened to everything they say we’d end up doing nothing,” she told Reuters after leaving the stadium.

“I decided to come anyway.” (Reporting by Guillermo Martinez and Elena Rodriguez; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Alison Williams)

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