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Denmark suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears


Denmark on Thursday, 11 March, suspended use of the Covid-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca after several cases of blood clots among people inoculated with the shot.

The Danish health authority announced the temporary ban, which could lead to more resistance towards the shot in Europe, after describing the blood clots as ‘serious’.

The authority noted: “It has not been determined, at the time being, that there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.”

The move by Denmark follows Austria’s precautionary decision to pause inoculations of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shot

The pair were vaccinated from the same batch in the same clinic.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), said on Wednesday there was “no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions”.

One 49-year-old woman died as a result of severe coagulation disorders, while a 35-year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism and is recovering. A pulmonary embolism is an acute lung disease caused by a dislodged blood clot.

Authorities said blood clotting was not among the known side effects of the vaccine.

According to clinical and real-world data, some patients experience only mild to moderate side effects, including headaches, fatigue and pain at the site of injection.

The vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, is one of three Covid-19 drugs approved in the European Union. The others are made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

But officials are struggling to generate public support for the AstraZeneca vaccine after it was described as ‘quasi-ineffective’ by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The German medicines regulator also cast doubt on its effectiveness after it did not recommend the shot for older people, citing a lack of data.

The country performed a U-turn last week after its independent vaccine panel reversed its former advice and ruled the shot was safe for over-65s.

France announced a similar move just days before Germany changed its advice.

Real-world data released by British health authorities showed the shot was ‘highly effective’ in preventing serious illness in older people, with a more than 80 per cent reduction in hospital admissions.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock said the data was “slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer”.

The public health England study showed that in people over the age of 80, a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was more than 80 per cent effective in preventing hospital admission about three to four weeks after vaccination.

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