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Sweden, Latvia join nations halting AstraZeneca vaccine

Sweden, Latvia join nations halting AstraZeneca vaccine
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Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday joined the growing list of European countries that have suspended administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns over blood clotting.

Multiple European countries had already stopped use of the AstraZeneca vaccine including France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Denmark. The vaccine has not been authorized for use in the U.S.

According to The Associated Press, the Swedish Public Health Agency said it would pause its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine while waiting for the results of a European Medicines Agency meeting.

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Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, said in a statement that "the decision is a precautionary measure.”

The Latvian government made similar remarks regarding its decision to halt AstraZeneca shots, calling it "an additional precaution," according to Reuters.

“The decision is based on reports from individual European Union countries of thromboembolism and similar cases observed at various times after receiving the vaccine,” the Latvian health agency said in a statement. “To date, there is no data on the causal link between vaccination and serious health problems.”

AstraZeneca released a statement on Monday maintaining that its vaccine was safe for use.

"So far across the EU and UK, there have been 15 events of DVT [deep vein thrombosis] and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those given the vaccine, based on the number of cases the Company has received as of 8 March," the company said. "This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines."

The European Union has approved four vaccines for use in its member countries, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.