Denmark becomes first in EU to drop AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Denmark was one of the first countries to suspend the vaccine on March 11 after reports of blood clots.
Bloomberg |
PUBLISHED ON APR 14, 2021 06:06 PM IST
A nurse prepares a dose of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.(Reuters)

Denmark has become the first country in the European Union to drop AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine from its Covid-19 inoculation program, amid concerns over its serious side effects.

The country has decided to “continue the roll-out of its vaccination program, without AstraZeneca,” the Danish Health Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

“There is a link between rare, but serious” side effects and the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, the authority said. It listed the risk of blood clots, hemorrhaging and a low number of blood platelets.

Given that the pandemic has been kept reasonably well in check in Denmark, the authority said it was deemed acceptable to take Astra out of the country’s vaccine program, which it estimates will delay overall immunization by about three weeks.

Denmark was one of the first countries to suspend the vaccine on March 11 after reports of blood clots. At the time, the Danish Health Authority called the decision a precautionary move and reiterated its view that Astra’s vaccine was “effective and safe.”

Both European and British drug regulators have said they found a link between Astra’s vaccine and blood clots, but said benefits still outweigh the risks. Most Western European countries have limited their use of the company’s vaccine to the elderly, while in Eastern Europe, Astra has largely been reinstated with no limitations.

Denmark’s Scandinavian neighbor, Norway, which has also kept Astra on hold since last month, is due to announce its decision on Thursday.

Danish authorities said that people who have already received a first Astra shot will be offered their second jab from another producer, such as Pfizer Inc./BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc.

Denmark has become the first country in the European Union to drop AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine from its Covid-19 inoculation program, amid concerns over its serious side effects.

The country has decided to “continue the roll-out of its vaccination program, without AstraZeneca,” the Danish Health Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

“There is a link between rare, but serious” side effects and the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, the authority said. It listed the risk of blood clots, hemorrhaging and a low number of blood platelets.

Given that the pandemic has been kept reasonably well in check in Denmark, the authority said it was deemed acceptable to take Astra out of the country’s vaccine program, which it estimates will delay overall immunization by about three weeks.

Denmark was one of the first countries to suspend the vaccine on March 11 after reports of blood clots. At the time, the Danish Health Authority called the decision a precautionary move and reiterated its view that Astra’s vaccine was “effective and safe.”

Both European and British drug regulators have said they found a link between Astra’s vaccine and blood clots, but said benefits still outweigh the risks. Most Western European countries have limited their use of the company’s vaccine to the elderly, while in Eastern Europe, Astra has largely been reinstated with no limitations.

Denmark’s Scandinavian neighbor, Norway, which has also kept Astra on hold since last month, is due to announce its decision on Thursday.

Danish authorities said that people who have already received a first Astra shot will be offered their second jab from another producer, such as Pfizer Inc./BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc.

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