Multiple Countries Pause Use Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Over Blood-Clotting Concerns

"It may be nothing, we may be overreacting..."
An illustrative photo showing a medical syringe seen in front of Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford logos displayed on screens in the background on Christmas Eve. On Thursday, December 24, 2020, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo illustration by
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Several European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 following reports of a potential blood-clotting issue.

Norway was the first country to pause the inoculation, saying three people who received the vaccine were treated for severe blood clots and cerebral hemorrhages. Ireland did the same on Sunday, with health officials citing concerns over the reports from Norway, adding that they were doing so “out of an abundance of caution,” Reuters reported.

The people at the center of the reports were all “of younger age” and had a reduced number of platelets in their blood, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a statement on Saturday.

“The Norwegian Medicines Agency has received several adverse reaction reports about younger vaccinated people who have had skin haemorrhages (small-spotted skin haemorrhages and / or larger or smaller blue spots) after coronary vaccination. This is serious and can be a sign of decreased platelet count,” said the statement.

“Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the temporary deferral pending the receipt of more information from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the coming days,” reported Reuters.

“It may be nothing, we may be overreacting and I sincerely hope that in a week’s time that we will have been accused of being overly-cautious,” Ireland’s deputy health minister told RTE, an Irish broadcaster, according to The Hill. “Hopefully we will have data to reassure us in a few short days and we will be back up and running with this.”

The Netherlands followed, but the Dutch health ministry “said there was no proof yet of a direct link between the vaccine and reports of possible side-effects from Norway and Denmark and it had not recorded any cases in the Netherlands,” The Guardian reported.

Government officials there said they will wait for an investigation by the EMA. “We can’t allow any doubts about the vaccine,” Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge said, according to the Guardian. “We have to make sure everything is right, so it is wise to pause for now.”

Iceland also stopped the vaccine’s distribution, as did Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

“Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) have said that there is no clear evidence of a link between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and blood-clotting issues, a claim echoed by the company itself,” said The Hill. “The vaccine is one of several being included in the WHO-led COVAX effort to distribute doses to poorer nations.”

“There will be people who have been immunized who will die of other causes,” said Mariângela Simão, a WHO deputy general. “So far the preliminary data we have seen does not lead to a causal relationship.”

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca on Sunday said it had reviewed reactions from more than 17 million people who have been vaccinated in the European Union and Britain, adding they found no evidence of increased risk of blood clots from the shots.

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