Three European countries on Thursday said they would hold off on resuming usage of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine even after the bloc’s drug regulator said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the negative side effects and cleared it for use.
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, in separate statements, said they would wait on whether to decide if they would resume rolling out the vaccine.
Reports said that some recipients of the vaccine developed blood clots or died after getting the shot. In Italy, a prosecutor in Piedmont announced they would open a criminal manslaughter investigation after a 57-year-old music teacher died hours after getting the AstraZeneca CCP virus shot, while Danish officials last week said a 60-year-old woman developed “unusual symptoms” and died after the shot.
Amid the reports, more than a dozen European Union countries suspended usage of the vaccine, including Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and others.
“The vaccine from AstraZeneca is generally a safe and efficient vaccine that offers protection against COVID-19, but it cannot be ruled out that there may be an association between the vaccine and the rare cases of blood clots, a low level of blood platelets, and bleeding. The EMA is therefore launching further investigations,” Danish health regulators said in a news release after the EU released its findings suggesting the vaccine is generally safe to use.
“It is important that we together with EMA and the other drug regulatory authorities take our time to evaluate this type of reports thoroughly,” Tanja Erichsen, the Danish Medicines Agency’s acting director of pharmacovigilance, said in the release.
And Geir Bukholm, director of the Division of Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, asserted that “due to the situation with several serious cases in Norway, we want to thoroughly review the situation before we make a conclusion.”
A Norwegian medical team also asserted that there was a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and reports of blood clots.
“We have obtained results which may explain the clinical course of our hospitalized patients,” said Pal Andre Holme, a professor of hematology at Oslo University Hospital, reported EuroNews. “These patients had a powerful immune response which led to the formation of antibodies which can affect the platelets and thus lead to a blood clot,” he remarked.
Sweden’s public health agency said that it would not immediately start using the vaccine as it is investigating reports of blood clots in the country.
“[We] hope that next week we will be able to decide how best to use this vaccine in the future,” said Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, reported EuroNews.