Explained: Why have some countries suspended use of AstraZeneca vaccine?
- The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Iceland temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine after reports of cases of blood clots.
Amid rising concern over blood clot events, British-Swedish pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca issued a statement on Monday saying a review of 17 million people who were administered its Covid-19 vaccine suggested that it was entirely safe for use. The statement came after a number of countries suspended the use of the jab after reports of a number of people developing blood clots after receiving the vaccine.
“A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with Covid-19 vaccine of AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country,” the company said in a statement.
What’s the cause of concern with regards to AstraZeneca vaccine?
Across the European Union and Britain, there have been at least 15 events of deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in the veins and 22 events of pulmonary embolism or when blood clot enters the lungs reported among those who were administered the AstraZeneca vaccine, officials said.
Which countries have suspended the vaccine’s use?
The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Iceland temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine after reports of cases of blood clots. Italy and Romania have banned the use of a similar batch of the vaccine. Austria has also stopped the usage of certain batches of the vaccine and Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg have suspended the same batch which was suspended by Austria.
Which countries are still using the vaccine?
France and Germany have said that they would continue to use the AstraZeneca jab. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there was no evidence that the vaccine had caused problems. “Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK,” the agency said.
Could the suspension affect the vaccination programme in these countries?
The decision to temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccine comes as a setback to the European vaccination programme. However, the gaps in the vaccination programme could be filled as the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine has also been approved in the EU.