Denmark reported on Saturday that two people experienced brain haemorrhages after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, one of which died. The Danish Medicines Agency said it was investigating whether the condition was a possible side effect.
A spokesman for the Capital Region of Denmark confirmed the death, and the Danish news agency Ritzau reported that the other person, a female official in her thirties, was critically ill.
Millions of people in dozens of countries have received the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine with few adverse effects reports. After several countries recently suspended the use of the vaccine, the European Medicines Agency reviewed it and said that it considers the vaccine safe, although it will continue to look into any connection with blood disorders. The agency noted that any threat would be very small, and that the shots would prevent far more deaths than they would cause.
Recent blood clots and abnormal bleeding in a small number of vaccines in European countries have raised questions about their safety and called for a suspension. It created a disruptive pause in the vaccination campaigns this week, even as some European countries penetrated a third wave of infections.
“At the moment we are investigating whether it is exactly the same disease picture with multiple blood clots, a low number of platelets and bleeding,” Tanja Erichsen, director of the Danish Medicines Agency, said in a radio interview with the Danish national broadcaster DR said. .
“We prioritize reports of suspected serious side effects such as these and investigate them thoroughly to determine if there is a possible link with the vaccine,” she said. Erichsen. said in a tweet on Saturday. “We are dealing with the two specific issues.”
This is the second death in Denmark after someone received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Norway is investigating the deaths of two people who received the vaccine.
Denmark has suspended use of AstraZeneca until Thursday, despite assurances from the European Medicines Agency. Other Scandinavian countries and Finland have made similar decisions. But some European countries, including France and Germany, have resumed firing.
Some of the continued caution is driven by preliminary findings of medical experts in Norway and Germany indicating a possible link between the vaccine and the extremely rare blood disorders. The German experts said that the sinus or cerebral arterial thrombosis suffered by 13 Germans 13 days after receiving the vaccine was caused by a reaction to the immune system which they said could be linked to the shot. They did not disclose detailed information, but plan to submit their findings to The Lancet.
AstraZeneca did not comment on the allegations on Friday.
Dr James Bussel, an expert on platelet disorders and emeritus professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, said the occurrence of abnormal coagulation and low platelets in people under 50 is uncommon. He noted that researchers in Europe have identified antibodies produced by the immune system – possibly in a very unusual response to the vaccine – that may have activated the platelets and started a cascade of abnormal clotting and bleeding.
Researchers in both Germany and Norway will continue the investigation and in Germany, where the vaccine is being re-administered, doctors are now warning anyone who gets an AstraZeneca shot to go to a doctor immediately if they have a headache more than three days later, dizziness or dull face. They said the problems could probably be dealt with if caught in time.