Ireland, Netherlands suspends AstraZeneca vaccine amid fears of blood clots

LONDON – Ireland and the Netherlands have joined the growing list of countries that have suspended the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford due to the blood clot.

The Dutch government said on Sunday that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would only be used on March 29, while Ireland said earlier in the day that it had temporarily suspended the shot as a precaution.

The World Health Organization has sought to reduce ongoing safety issues, saying last week that there is no link between the shot and an increased risk of developing blood clots. The United Nations Health Agency has called on countries to continue the vaccination against Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Despite this, a number of European countries have already suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This increased the misery of the region’s vaccination campaign at a time when the German public health agency had warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections had already started.

Thailand has also halted its planned deployment of the vaccine.

The move to suspend its use by Dutch and Irish officials took place shortly after Norway’s medical agency said three health workers were notified at the hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Norway has suspended its Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination program.

Geir Bukholm, director of the division for infection control and environmental health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said that the Norwegian Medicines Agency “will follow up on these suspected side effects and take the necessary measures in this serious situation.”

On 27 November 2020, a photograph of ‘Nikki’ Anniken Hars was treated by a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet in Oslo, Norway.

JIL YNGLAND | AFP | Getty Images

The European Drug Regulator, the European Medicines Agency, also said there was no indication that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was causing blood clots, adding that he believed the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

The EMA acknowledged that some European countries had suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, but said the vaccination could still be given while an investigation into cases of blood clots was under way.

How did AstraZeneca react?

A health worker holds a box containing the AstraZeneneca vaccine at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Chaiwat Subprasom | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

The pharmaceutical giant said that in the EU and the UK, 15 incidents of deep vein thrombosis and 22 incidents of pulmonary embolism have been reported among those vaccinated.

“It is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this magnitude, and is similar to other licensed COVID-19 vaccines,” AstraZeneca said.

What do the experts say?

“Covid certainly causes coagulation disorders and each of the vaccines prevents Covid’s disease, including more severe cases,” said Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Therefore, it is highly likely that the benefit of the vaccine significantly outweighs any risk of coagulation disorders and that the vaccine prevents other effects of Covid, including deaths due to other causes.”

Evans said it was “completely reasonable” to do studies on the vaccines and coagulation disorders, but added: “It seems like a step too far to take precautions that will prevent people from getting vaccines that can prevent diseases. . “

Many high-income countries – such as the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Canada – have chosen to continue their respective vaccinations against Oxford-AstraZeneca.

“If there is clear evidence of serious or life-threatening side effects that will have significant consequences,” Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, said in a statement.

“This has not happened so far, and it is highly undesirable to disrupt a complex and urgent program every time people contract diseases after receiving vaccinations, which are accidental and not causally related. The right call in situations ‘like this is not easy, but getting a steady hand on the handlebars is probably the most necessary,’ Finn said.

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