The nation of Denmark on Thursday suspended its AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccination campaign after reports of blood clots surfaced in those who had received the inoculation.
The vaccine, produced by Oxford University and the UK/Sweden-based AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals firm, is being used widely throughout Europe but has not been cleared for emergency authorization in the United States yet.
Denmark announced that it would “temporarily” suspend the AstraZeneca campaign “after reports of severe cases of blood clots in people who have been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.
Severe cases of blood clots, several possible deaths linked to AstraZeneca vaccine
“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are putting it on hold,” the country’s National Board of Health state in its remarks to the press today.
The AstraZeneca-University of Oxford product is one of the heavy hitters in both the U.K. and European Union’s immunization programs.
The Danish Health Authority announced “Against this background, the European Medicines Agency has launched an investigation into the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“One report relates to a death in Denmark. At present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots,” the ministry stated.
EMA launches investigation
The announcement did not specify exactly how many reports of blood clots it had received or where in the body they had occurred.
Just last week, the nation of Austria began investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after they had both received doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
As of Thursday morning, the AstraZeneca company’s shares on the London market had declined 2.4%. The University of Oxford, where the majority of the research for the vaccine took place last year, had no comment on the announcement when they were contacted by the American news network CNBC.
On its part, AstraZeneca said that it was aware of the statement made by the Danish Health Authority, adding: “Patient safety is the highest priority for AstraZeneca.
“Safety of vaccine has been extensively studied”
“Regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine, and that includes COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. The safety of the vaccine has been extensively studied in Phase III clinical trials and Peer-reviewed data confirms the vaccine is generally well tolerated.”
Søren Brostrøm, Denmarks’ National Board of Health director, maintained that the two-week-long suspension of AstraZeneca inoculations was a precautionary measure while the necessary investigations are ongoing.
“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are putting it on hold,” he remarked to the press.
“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 added.
Multiple thrombosis, pulmonary embolism
The Austrian health authorities suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s batch #ABV5300 after one person was diagnosed with multiple thrombosis (the formation of blood clots within blood vessels) and died ten days after they had received the inoculation.
Another individual in Austria was hospitalized after suffering from pulmonary embolism after also being vaccinated.
European Medicines Agency told the press on Wednesday that “The latter is now recovering.”
Still the European agency added “there is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”
EMA officials disclosed that the same batch of AstraZeneca vaccine, amounting to 1 million doses, had already been delivered to seventeen nations in the EU.
“Some EU countries have also subsequently suspended this batch as a precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing. Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated,” the EMA said in a statement.
The EMA committee tasked with reviewing medication safety was “investigating the cases reported with the batch as well as all other cases of thromboembolic events, and other conditions related to blood clots, reported post-vaccination,” it added.
“The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population.”
The EMA noted that as of March 9, “22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the 3 million people vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area.”
UK, EU heavily reliant on AstraZeneca inoculation
The clinical trials for the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot showed an average efficacy of 70% but a more recent study by Oxford University found that the inoculation was 76% effective in preventing symptomatic infection.
This was true, it said, for three months after a single dose of the vaccine, and the percentage of efficacy actually rose with a longer interval between the first and second doses.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is one of the major players in the UK and EU’s vaccine campaigns. It is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and has not been given the green light for emergency authorization use by the general public.
Up to now, over 22 million of UK citizens have received the first dose of a coronavirus inoculation, and it is currently employing only the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
Greece plans to vaccinate under-64 age group with AstraZeneca inoculation
On February 9, Greece’s National Vaccination Committee took a unanimous vote to go forward with administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to citizens up to 64 years of age.
The meeting was followed by statements by the president of the National Vaccination Committee Maria Theodoridou and the general secretary of Primary Health Care Marios Themistokleous.
Theodoridou stated “the National Vaccination Committee has reviewed in detail all available data regarding the safety and efficacy of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, following the recent approval of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency for use in people 18 years of age and older, and in view of the possibility of its availability in Greece in the near future.”
The Commission concluded that, according to all the data available to date, the AstraZeneca vaccine has very good safety, immunity, and efficacy characteristics.
In particular, the Committee said at the time that it believed that the inoculation is safe, and well-tolerated by the population and the side effects are mostly mild and local.