London: Queen Elizabeth II’s oldest son and heir on Wednesday criticised opposition to coronavirus vaccines, as British ministers sought to calm public fears about safety.
Prince Charles said there was no need to fear vaccination, as several countries suspended the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid jab because of suspected links to blood clots.
“Who would have thought, for instance, that in the 21st century that there would be a significant lobby opposing vaccination, given its track record in eradicating so many terrible diseases,” he said in an article in the Future Healthcare Journal.
Charles, who has been vocal in advocating the rollout of the vaccine among more reluctant minority communities in Britain, added the jab had the “potential to protect and liberate some of the most vulnerable in our society from coronavirus”.
The 72-year-old Prince of Wales, who tested positive for coronavirus last year and suffered mild symptoms, had his first dose of a vaccine in February.
His wife, Camilla, 73, confirmed on Tuesday she had been given the AstraZeneca shot.
“You take what you are given,” she said as the pair visited a vaccination centre at a north London mosque, adding that she had no ill effects.
Britain’s government and scientists are increasingly pushing back at concerns about the safety of the vaccine developed by the Anglo-Swedish firm with scientists from Oxford University.
European countries including France, Spain and Germany are among those who have halted using the jab pending a review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
But Professor Jeremy Brown, from government advisory body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the move was “not logical”.
“There is the concern that what’s happening in Europe might make people in the UK less confident in the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he told broadcaster ITV.
In a newspaper article published on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there was “no evidence” that vaccines caused blood clots.
The EMA, the World Health Organization and Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have all backed the AstraZeneca jab, he wrote in The Sun.
“The rate of reported cases (of clots) among the people vaccinated is lower than what would be expected to happen naturally in the general population,” he wrote.
Britain has given nearly 25 million people a first dose of a Covid vaccine — including 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab — after starting a mass inoculation programme in December last year.
Vaccinations are seen as central getting Britain out of lockdown and back to normality.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in the Times newspaper the “vaccine is safe and works extremely well”.
France and Italy have said they will “promptly restart” giving the jab if the EMA review allows it.
As Britain has surged ahead with its vaccination programme, European countries have been accused of playing politics to distract from their sluggish inoculation rollouts.
European leaders were angered in January after AstraZeneca announced it was unable to deliver the agreed numbers of jabs to the bloc.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)