AstraZeneca is facing a major negative PR campaign after several European countries suspended the use of its vaccine following reports of blood clotting in some recipients.
It began when Denmark suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports that some people who received it developed substantial blood clots, according to Danish authorities.
Soon after, Norway also stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. “This is a cautionary decision,” said Director Geir Bukholm of Infection Prevention and Control of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) during a news conference, according to an Al Jazeera report.
Danish officials said this action was in response “to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries,” according to a report from CNBC.
“Against this background, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) 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,” said a Danish health authority in a statement.
The European Union member didn’t state precisely how many blood clots had occurred.
This comes on the heels of another similar investigation in Austria by authorities on the death of a person and the illness of another after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Italy also suspended the rollout of a batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, weeks back.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical company in question emphasized in a written statement to Reuters that its vaccine’s safety was studied extensively during human trials, with peer-reviewed data affirming the “well-tolerated” reaction to the vaccine.
AstraZeneca also said its vaccine underwent severe and rigorous quality control, and that there were “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine,” according to the Reuters report.
The EMA said no evidence yet existed linking AstraZeneca to the two cases under investigation in Austria.
Early on, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia joined in halting AstraZeneca’s vaccine rollout as a precautionary measure while the investigation went on, according to the EMA.
Thailand recently became the first Asian country to halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine jab over safety concerns, shortly after Denmark announced a two-week pause to its nationwide rollout after reports of blood clots and one death.
More European countries suspend the vaccine
Many high-income countries have chosen to continue the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of safety concerns.
Over 5 million people in Europe have received the AstraZeneca inoculation.
Of this figure, at least 30 cases of so-called “thromboembolic events” have been reported. These cases refer to blood clots forming in the blood vessels and blocking blood flow.
The U.K., France, Australia, Canada, and Mexico are among some of the nations that originally sought to reassure citizens about the benefits of getting the vaccine and have said they will continue their respective inoculation campaigns.
But a cascading number of European countries, including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, starting March 15, over reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients.
Also announcing a temporary ban are Portugal and Slovenia.
“An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said.
More side effects
Severe allergies should be added to the possible side effects of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after likely links were found to a number of cases in Britain, the EU’s drug regulator said recently.
The development comes a day after the EMA said it was investigating a separate issue of blood clots that prompted Denmark to suspend the use of the jab.
The Amsterdam-based EMA said it had “recommended an update to the product information to include anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity (allergic reactions) as side effects”.
“The update is based on a review of 41 reports of possible anaphylaxis seen among around 5 million vaccinations in the United Kingdom,” it said in the highlights of the EMA committee that assesses the risk of medications.
“After careful review of the data, (the committee) considered that a link to the vaccine was likely in at least some of these cases.”
The EMA said however that anaphylaxis, or what it called “severe allergic reactions”, was already what it called a “known side effect that may occur, very rarely, with vaccines”.
The AstraZeneca vaccine‘s product information already said that people should be kept under “close observation for at least 15 minutes” after getting the jab in case of allergic reactions.