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9 countries pause AstraZeneca jabs after blood clot fear: EU says its safe

Countries across Europe have stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, or specific batches of the jab, over blood clot fears although the EU’s medical regulators say there is no evidence of any link. 

Yesterday evening, Thursday, Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine entirely. Denmark halted the shots for two weeks following the death of a 60-year-old woman who formed a blood clot and died, the Danish health authorities said. The woman had received the vaccine from the same batch causing concerns in Austria, where a 49-year old nurse had died from a blood clot on Monday shortly after receiving the shot.

Soren Brostrom, director of the National Board of Health in Denmark, said the 14-day pause was a precaution while investigations took place.

“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are putting it on hold. There is good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective. But both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries,” he said.

Five other countries – Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg – have now suspended any further use of that batch – ABV5300 – which was made up of one million vaccine shots and was sent to 17 European countries.

Italy has also paused the use of a different batch of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines after a naval officer and a policeman died. The country’s medicine regulator and health authorities is investigating batch ABV2856 of the vaccine following the death of Stefano Paternò, who died of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving the jab, and the death of a police officer who also died within 12 days of vaccination.

However, the European Medicines Agency said in a statement: ‘The position of EMA’s safety committee… is that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.’

Some authorities have previously questioned the effectiveness of the Oxford-researched vaccine, with Germany and France curtailing the AstraZeneca jab’s use in patients over 65 for a time, claiming it did not give sufficient protection to the elderly.

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