France resumes the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
A pharmacist administers the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a patient in a pharmacy in Paris as part of the coronavirus disease vaccination campaign, March 19, 2021.

Two European prime ministers - Britain’s Boris Johnson and France’s Jean Castex -  are being inoculated Friday with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, a day after Europe’s medicine regulator declared the vaccine safe. 

Johnson said, “The thing that isn’t safe is catching COVID, which is why it is so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.” 

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency approved the continued use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the battle to contain the pandemic.  The regulator’s seal of approval came after several European countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, had stopped using the vaccine following reports that the shots caused blood clots in some vaccine recipients.

The agency said in a statement “the benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 (which itself results in clotting problems and may be fatal) continue to outweigh the risk of side effects.”

The agency added, “A causal link with the vaccine is not proven but is possible and deserves further analysis.”

Meanwhile, the White House announced Thursday that it is sending millions of stockpiled doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada.

The vaccine has not yet been approved for use by U.S. regulators, but it has been approved for use by Mexico and Canada.

The announcement comes as the Biden administration wants Mexico’s help in stemming the tide of migrants who are attempting to come into the U.S.

Mexico is slated to receive 2.5 million vaccines from the U.S., with Canada receiving 1.5 million.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the vaccines would be loans to the two U.S. neighbors, with the U.S. eventually being reimbursed with vaccines from the bordering countries.

Beginning Friday, several French regions, including Paris, will be under new lockdown orders to contain increasing coronavirus cases.

France had 40,000 new cases Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday the outbreak in France is “worsening,” adding, “Our responsibility now is that it not get out of control.”

On Friday, India’s Union Health Ministry reported an increase in coronavirus infections for a ninth day in a row, with 40,000 new cases in the previous 24-hour period. India has 11.5 million COVID-19 cases.

Only two countries have more infections than India -- the U.S., with 29.6 million cases, and Brazil, with 11.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Johns Hopkins reports there are 121.7 million global coronavirus infections.

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