Italy joined other European nations Monday in blocking the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine over fears of a link to blood clots, pending a review by the EU regulator.
The decision by Italian medicines agency AIFA came after talks between Health Minister Roberto Speranza and the ministers in Germany, France and Spain, his office said.
“The choices made and shared today by the main European countries on AstraZeneca have been taken purely as a precautionary measure pending the next decisive meeting of the European Medicines Agency,” Speranza said in a statement.
“We are confident that the European agency will already in the next few hours be able to definitively clarify this issue.”
Earlier, the regulator said it had “decided to extend the ban on the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine throughout Italy as a precautionary and temporary measure pending European Medicines Agency (EMA) rulings.”
Italy’s move followed that of Germany and France, which earlier Monday said they would stop administering the jab.
Over the weekend, Ireland and the Netherlands both suspended the vaccine, with a Dutch drugs watchdog saying there were potentially 10 cases of blood clots linked to the vaccine.
AIFA last week banned the use of a single batch of the vaccine as a precaution, while insisting there was no established link to the alleged side-effects.
But the northern Italian region of Piedmont went on to suspend the use of all AstraZeneca batches on Sunday after the death of a teacher who had received it the day before.
The World Health Organization and AstraZeneca have both said the vaccine is safe.