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Denmark’s national health agency has said it is temporarily suspending inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after blood clots formed in several people who had the jab, one of whom has reportedly died.
The agency said on Thursday that it had not conclusively established a link between the clots and the vaccine, but said it had asked the regional authorities in charge of the vaccination programme to stop using the AstraZeneca shot for the time being.
The agency said it would reassess the situation in consultation with the Danish medicines agency in two weeks’ time, but stressed there was “good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective”.
“We are in the middle of the largest and most important vaccination rollout in Danish history,” said Søren Brostrøm, the agency’s director. “Right now we need all the vaccines we can get. It is therefore not an easy decision to put one on pause.”
He added: “Precisely because we are vaccinating so many people, we also need to respond promptly and carefully when we have knowledge of possible serious side-effects. We need to clarify this before we can continue using the AstraZeneca vacine.”
The health agency did not say how many reports of blood clots there had been, but Austria has stopped using one batch of AstraZeneca doses while it investigates a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.
Six other European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania, have reportedly halted the use of a batch from AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has been approved for use in adults by the UK’s national medicines regulator MHRA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EMA said this week there was no evidence so far linking AstraZeneca to the two Austrian cases, adding that the number of people reporting blood clots who havd received the shot was no higher than in the general population, with 22 cases reported among the 3 million people who had received it as of 9 March.
AstraZeneca has said its shots are subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there have been “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine”. It said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support their investigation.
Danish media said the suspension meant people who have had an initial shot of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine would not receive a second jab for the time being and all AstraZeneca vaccination slots had been cancelled.
More than 142,000 people in Denmark have received a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to figures from the state Serum Institut. The prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said the news was “of course regrettable, because we are so incredibly dependent on everyone being vaccinated”.
Denmark has been ahead of most of the rest of the EU27 with its vaccination programme and has already administered a first dose to about 13% of its population, prioritising care home residents, over-65s receiving daily help, healthy people aged over 85, healthcare workers, and people with underlying conditions that mean they are particularly at risk from infection.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Denmark pauses AstraZeneca vaccines to investigate blood clot reports | Vaccines and immunisation