European countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations despite advice from European medicines regulator

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The Netherlands on Sunday became the last European country to suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations due to blood clot concerns despite advice from the European Union medicines regulator that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential risks .

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria and Ireland have also halted vaccinations.

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Monday that a “rare combination” of blood clots and lowered blood platelets in several AstraZeneca vaccines in Norway and Denmark was “sufficient reason” to suspend use of the drug. vaccine in the Netherlands for two weeks.

Although any causation remains an open question, reports of six cases in Norway and Denmark had given medical authorities in the Netherlands sufficient reason “to press the pause button,” de Jonge said.

“Thrombosis is of course a very common complaint. And so, if you are vaccinating a large group of people, it is not crazy that there are also people with thrombosis after vaccination. But in this case, it is a very rare combination of thrombosis in which bleeding can also occur due to a reduced number of platelets, ”he added.

The Minister of Health had declared as recently as Thursday that blood clots were occurring “no because of the vaccination” and that there was “no need to worry”.

In a letter to parliament sent on Sunday, de Jonge wrote that the break would be in effect until March 29, “pending further advice from the EMA,” or the European Medicines Agency.

The EMA said on Thursday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed the risks and did not recommend suspending its use while the investigation of thromboembolic events is ongoing.

The EMA said it was aware that Denmark was suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations due to reports of blood clots in people who had received it, but said: “There is currently no indication that the vaccination caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this. vaccine.”

The Danish Medicines Agency said on Monday that the woman who died of a blood clot after receiving AstraZeneca in Denmark had an “unusual picture of illness surrounding the death”, with low platelet counts, blood clots in the young and large vessels and bleeding.

“The clinical picture is very unusual and is currently the subject of a thorough investigation by the European Medicines Agency,” the agency said in a statement.

Denmark is one of six European countries to suspend the use of AstraZeneca despite the EMA’s recommendation.

  • Denmark: On Thursday March 11, Denmark suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations for 14 days as a “precautionary measure” as it investigates “signs of a possible serious side effect in the form of fatal blood clots” after death of a Dane after vaccination, according to Danish health officials.
  • Norway: On Thursday March 11, Norway chose to “suspend” vaccinations following reports of the death in Denmark. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said similar cases have been reported in Norway, but “mainly in the elderly where there is often another underlying disease.”
  • Iceland: On Thursday March 11, Iceland suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. There have been no reports of patients developing blood clots in the country.
  • Bulgaria: Friday March 12 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has ordered all AstraZeneca vaccinations to be stopped until the EMA “dismisses all doubts” about the safety of the vaccine.
  • Ireland: On Sunday March 14, Ireland decided to temporarily suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to “maintain confidence” in its vaccination program, according to the chairman of its national vaccination advisory committee.
  • Netherlands: On Sunday March 14, the Dutch government announced that it would suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations for two weeks “as a precautionary measure and pending further investigation”.

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