UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock received the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, in a public show of support for the jab which has been suspected of causing life-threatening blood clots.
Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, administered the jab for Hancock at a vaccination centre in London.
“It didn’t hurt a bit, just like the Queen said. Barely a scratch,” he said.
I’m feeling great now I’ve had my first jab.
Massive thanks to JVT for administering my Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccination & doing so much for us all through the pandemic.
When I got the call, I got the jab. pic.twitter.com/nmDCwCg5qX
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) April 29, 2021
Hancock said he was “very excited” when he was called for the jab, and encouraged everyone to take up the offer.
The Department of Health confirmed that Hancock received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.
Last month, more than a dozen European countries—including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain—suspended usage of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of blood clots as well as several deaths in people who had received the shot. Most countries have resumed using the vaccine but some have suspended inoculations in older individuals.
The UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said on April 7 that 19 people had died in the UK after developing blood clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab.
But MHRA insisted that the benefits of vaccination “continue to outweigh any risks.”
The European Union’s drug regulation agency, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), also said that there is a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare” blood clots but recommended that vaccinations continue and stressed the benefits outweigh the risks.
Some Christians have also expressed ethical concerns over the development process of the vaccine.
In an open letter against the so-called “vaccine passports” issued earlier this month, UK church leaders said some Christians have “serious issues of conscience related to the ethics of vaccine manufacture or testing.”
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine that has been developed from kidney cell lines derived from a foetus aborted in 1973.
Last month, U.S. Catholic bishops encouraged Catholics to avoid getting the adenovirus vector COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson if alternatives are available because they said the jab “was developed, tested, and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines.”
Johnson & Johnson’s stem cell line comes from an abortion performed in 1985, according to Science.
Like the AstraZeneca jab, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been found by the EMA to have a “possible link” with blood clots.
Jack Philips and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.