Health authorities in Denmark, Norway, Iceland and other European countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Coronavirus (COVID-19), vaccine following reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who had been vaccinated.
Denmark suspended the shots for two weeks after a 60-year-old woman, who was given an AstraZeneca shot from the same batch used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died, Danish health authorities said.
Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke made clear the pause was a “precautionary measure,” saying it was not possible yet to draw conclusions.
“We act early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated,” he said in a tweet.
The Danish Health Authority also stressed that the decision was temporary.
“We are in the middle of the largest and most important vaccination rollout in Danish history. And right now we need all the vaccines we can get. Therefore, putting one of the vaccines on pause is not an easy decision. But precisely because we vaccinate so many, we also need to respond with timely care when there is knowledge of possible serious side effects. We need to clarify this before we can continue to use the vaccine from AstraZeneca,” Søren Brostrøm, director of the National Board of Health, said in the statement.
“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. It shows that the monitoring system works. “
Austria citing the same case stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.
However, The World Health Organization (WHO), said Friday there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended the roll-out over blood clot fears.
The organisation responded after Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Italy and Romania postponed or limited the rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines after isolated reports of recipients developing blood clots.
“AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.
“We’ve reviewed the data on deaths. There has been no death, to date, proven to have be caused by vaccination,” she said.
“Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she added, stressing though that “any safety signal must be investigated.”
“We must always ensure that we look for any safety signals when we roll out vaccines, and we must review them,” she said.
“But there is no indication to not use it.”
Also, the Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has assured citizens that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the country are safe for use.
The agency’s clarification came hours after the director general of National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye insisted the vaccine is safe.
“We are satisfied that the clinical evidence indicates the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe and effective,” NPHCDA’s boss Faisal Shuaib said in a statement.
NPHCDA said is aware that concern have been raised regarding batch ABV5300 of the AstraZeneca vaccine, adding that investigations are being conducted to determine if the batch is in any way linked to an observed side effect.
The batch has been suspended in Italy following the death of a navy officer after taking the jab.
The agency said Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of the vaccine.
Shuaib said the agency has not observed any adverse reactions since Nigeria began its vaccine campaign, adding that all side effects reported by those who have been administered the vaccine have been mild.
“We are aware of precautionary concerns that have been raised regarding one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, namely ABV5300,” he said. “Our assessment is in line with countries such as Spain and the UK who have indicated that they will continue to administer the vaccine, because it remains an important tool to protect against COVID-19.”