A 63-year-old university professor collapsed within the first 24 hours after receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Athens, Greek Reporter has learned exclusively, as concerns over the side effects of the vaccine grow throughout Europe.
Germany, Italy, France, Spain and other European countries that have temporarily halted use of the Covid-19 shot.
Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday confirmed that Greece will continue administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending an investigation by the European Medicines Agency.
The 63-year-old professor, who spoke exclusively to Greek Reporter, collapsed on February 18, a day after he received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“I suddenly fainted as I was talking to a colleague in the office,” he tells Greek Reporter.
“I was standing up and fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. I was told I remained unconscious for about two minutes.”
The professor says that he sustained an injuries to his face and head from the fall — but things could have been worse if the incident had happened a few minutes before as he had been driving his car. After the man regained consciousness, he received first aid from colleagues and an ambulance was called.
He was taken to Thriasio Hospital where a series of tests were carried out. However, the results showed that there was nothing wrong with his general health and no indication of what had caused the collapse.
“It was the first time in my life that something like that happened to me,” the Professor says, adding that he suffers from no underlying health issues.
Skeptical about receiving second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine
“I had no second thoughts about receiving the vaccine. I was among the first in my age-group to vaccinate. I really believed that the vaccine will restore the normalcy to our everyday lives,” he tells Greek Reporter.
He says that after his hospital discharge he called the vaccination center in Athens and informed doctors about the incident. He was reassured that the collapse was not related to the vaccine.
“I was still worried and I followed the advice of my doctor to start another round of check-ups, including a electrocardiograph, myocardial perfusion imaging, triplex vascular and thyroid ultrasound and a stress test. I was also issued with a Holter monitor to measure my heart’s activity. Again, the results showed no issues with my health.
“I am not certain that the collapse was the result of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But nobody has reassured me that it is not. Doctors’ opinions diverge,” he says.
The professor says he is uncertain whether he will receive the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“If the situation does not clear up, I will think twice about receiving the second dose. I will try to get the vaccine of another company.”
AstraZeneca COVID vaccine used widely in Europe
The vaccine, produced by Oxford University and the UK/Sweden-based AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals firm, is being used widely throughout Europe but has not yet been cleared for emergency authorization in the United States.
A cascade of cautionary pauses that started last week picked up steam on Monday.
Denmark was the first country to suspend the AstraZeneca shots.
Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands and Iceland have also said they would wait for Europe’s bloc-wide medicines regulator to investigate a small number of serious blood-clotting issues among people who had received the AstraZeneca shot.
That regulator, the European Medicines Agency, is expected by Thursday to give its verdict on safety and potential risks from a review of the reported cases.
The agency on Monday repeated an advisory from last week that for now it is recommending that countries keep using the vaccine, saying the benefits outweigh possible risks.
Greece to continue administering AstraZeneca shots against Coronavirus
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday confirmed that Greece will continue administering the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Since the start of the vaccination process, we have put our trust in one institution, the EMA, which is responsible for authorizations, and we follow its guidelines faithfully,” Kikilias told Skai TV on Tuesday morning.
The health minister said that 172,000 doses of the jab developed by the UK’s Oxford University have already been administered in Greece, with just one report of complications that, upon further examination, were found to be unrelated to the vaccine.
“We will continue being vaccinated with all the vaccines approved in Europe until the EMA tells us otherwise,” Kikilias said.