Several countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigators look into cases of blood clots among vaccinated people.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus known as an adenovirus from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus although it can’t cause illness.
A single shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine is said to be highly protective and also helps in reducing the chance of an individual getting coronavirus. Once injected, it teaches the body’s immune system how to fight the real virus.
As of Tuesday, five EU countries – Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Latvia had suspended the use of a specific batch (ABV5300) of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a precaution following the death of a vaccinated person. The batch consisted of 1 million doses that were distributed among 17 EU countries, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The countries below have all suspended the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure.
Austrian: suspended the use of a particular batch of the drug this week when a woman died 10 days after vaccination because of severe blood coagulation problems. The Austrian doses were part of the batch of one million doses, identified as ABV5300, sent to 17 European countries.
Denmark: the Danish health authority said that one person in Denmark had died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine and that it would suspend the drug’s use for two weeks while the case was investigated. “It is important to point out that we have not terminated the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we are just pausing its use,” said the Danish health authority’s director, Soren Brostrøm.
Norway: around three hours after Denmark’s announcement, Norwegian officials said they would also suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Norwegian medicines agency said it would investigate whether there was a connection between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and blood clots in the lung and whether there were cases of blood clots in vaccinated people that had not yet been reported.
Italy: While Italy hasn’t received that specific batch, it announced this week that it’s pausing the rollout of a different batch (ABV2856) as a precaution in response to “some serious, adverse events”.
Iceland: had also suspended the use of the vaccine. Kjartan Njlsson, assistant to the director of health in Iceland said that officials were awaiting advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Bulgaria: said Friday it was pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The health ministry said the decision was based on the information it had received about possible side effects and the EMA’s ongoing investigation. Use of the vaccine was suspended until the EMA made an announcement, it said.
Thailand: said Friday it had paused the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, becoming the first Asian country to make the move. Thai health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Thailand’s decision was based on foreign data related to potential side effects and adverse reactions, and that authorities wanted to wait for more information. His statement did not mention the blood clots or name any countries.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been granted conditional marketing authorization or emergency use in more than 50 countries, including the UK and across the European Union. It has not yet been issued emergency-use authorization in the US.
The European Medicines Agency said that as of March 10, there were 30 reported cases of blood clotting-related incidents out of close to five million people who have received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, excluding the UK.
The regulator said the figures are no higher than that seen in the general population, and there’s no indication that the vaccine caused the conditions.