Story at a glance
- Several European countries have paused use of the vaccine following reports of blood clotting in patients.
- While the incidents have prompted the European countries to take precautions, health officials say evidence suggesting the vaccine should not be administered is scant.
- AstraZeneca said the safety of its vaccine had been studied extensively in clinical trials and met the stringent efficacy and safety standards required by regulators.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday hit pause on the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports of some patients developing blood clots after receiving the shot, according to Reuters.
Authorities in Denmark suspended the use of the vaccine for two weeks after a 60-year-old woman who received the shot developed a blood clot and died.
She was reportedly given a shot from the same batch of vaccine that was used in Austria, where authorities announced Monday they would stop using doses from the batch following the death of a nurse who developed blood coagulation problems days after being vaccinated. A second woman who received a vaccine from the batch was also hospitalized after developing a pulmonary embolism and is recovering.
“It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We [are acting] early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated,” Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter.
Iceland and Norway followed suit Thursday as an investigation into the reports is being conducted by Europe’s medicine regulator, European Medicines Agency (EMA). Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have also suspended vaccinations from the batch.
Italy also said it would stop the use of a batch different from the one used in Austria.
While the incidents have prompted the European countries to take precautions, health officials say evidence suggesting the vaccine should not be administered is scant.
“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” EMA said in a statement.
“The position of EMA’s safety committee PRAC is that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”
AstraZeneca said the safety of its vaccine had been studied extensively in clinical trials and met the stringent efficacy and safety standards required by regulators.
The vaccine has yet to receive emergency use authorization in the U.S.
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