A version of this story appeared in the March 17 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

CNN  — 

After virtually all of western Europe temporarily suspended the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, the continent’s top medicines regulator struck out against safety concerns around the shot, saying there is “no indication” that it causes blood clots and that its lifesaving benefits outweigh the risk of any potential side effects.

The backing from Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, came after France, Spain, Germany, Italy and more than a dozen other countries halted use of the vaccine, even as the continent confronts a third wave of the pandemic and faces criticism over sluggish vaccination rollout campaigns.

The actions of European governments have surprised experts and caused a myriad of questions among people who have had or are in line to get the shot, Rob Picheta writes.

But the pervading message from health experts has been one of calm; when placed in context the reported cases of blood clotting are rare and no greater than numbers would be in the general population, while the vaccine has been proven to work in reducing Covid-19 cases.

“These vaccines are to protect against a pandemic virus. There is an urgency to the rollout,” Michael Head, senior research fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, told CNN. “So pausing a vaccine campaign without a very good reason at this point in time just seems a bad move.”