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A TOTAL of 18 countries have suspended the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine due to fears it may cause blood clots.
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The AstraZeneca vaccine has been suspended in several countries over blood clot fearsCredit: Reuters
Which countries have banned the AstraZeneca vaccine?
On March 16, Sweden became the latest country to suspend the AstraZeneca jab.
Anders Tegnell said the pause was a “temporary measure” until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had completed an investigation into reports of people with severe blood clots.
On March 14, 2021, Ireland chose to “temporarily suspend” the jab as a “precautionary step”.
It came after a small number of reports of people experiencing blood clots in the days and weeks after their vaccination.
There were reports of serious clotting in adults in Norway which left four people in hospital.
The Dutch government said the precautionary move will last until at least March 29.
Germany followed suit on March 15 a spokesman for the Health Ministry said.
The ministry said the decision followed a recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Germany’s authority in charge of vaccines.
The ministry said in a statement: “Following a recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the government is, out of caution, halting the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
On March 12, Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, said there was no evidence that patients who received the vaccine were more likely than patients of a similar age group to suffer blood conditions.
Germany has since suspended giving out the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 60 years old, as investigations continue.
France also suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of precaution.
French President Emmanuel Macron said French authorities have decided to suspend the jab until the afternoon of Tuesday, March 16, when the European Medicines Agency will issue its recommendation over the vaccine.
He said France hopes to be able to vaccine again with AstraZeneca shots “soon”.
Most of the 27 member countries of the EU have already resumed the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Why have so many countries banned the AstraZeneca vaccine?
The move is seen as a precautionary measure.
About 17million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases of blood clots reported as of the second week in March, AstraZeneca said.
Dutch drug watchdog Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb said that 10 cases of possible adverse side effects had been reported in the Netherlands.
A health worker administers the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to a man at a mass vaccination centre at Holm View Leisure Centre in Barry, WalesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?
On March 16, Italy and France admitted their ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine is political.
Nicola Magrini, who runs Italian medicines regulator AIFA, said politicians were pressured to ban the Covid jabs after Germany and France did.
And EU officials have said there is “no indication” the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine causes blood clots.
The head of the Oxford University vaccine group has sought to reassure the public over its Covid-19 jab after several countries temporarily suspended its use.
Professor Andrew Pollard said that while it was right that regulators investigated reports of blood clots in people who have had the vaccine, data from millions of people was “very reassuring” that there was no link.
In the second week of March, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there was no evidence of a link between the jab and an increased risk of blood clots.
Prof Pollard said “safety is clearly absolutely paramount” but that about 3,000 cases of blood clots occur every month in the UK from other causes.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So, when you then put a vaccination campaign on top of that, clearly those blood clots still happen and you’ve got to then try and separate out whether, when they occur, they are at all related to the vaccine or not.”
Prof Pollard said that more than 11million doses have now been given in the UK, and the MHRA has said “very clearly that they’re not seeing any increase in the number of cases of blood clots” over what they would see normally.
He said: “I think at this moment we’ve got the most data from the UK, which looks very reassuring, but of course it’s absolutely right that there’s careful monitoring of safety and this gets looked into.”
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), also sought to reassure the public and said people should attend their vaccine appointments.
He said that the EMA, the MHRA, the World Health Organisation and AstraZeneca have “all said this vaccine is safe”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The data that we look at on a weekly basis on JCVI and a daily basis at MHRA are reassuring that there is no link, so we are right in this country to press on.
“We will keep monitoring this and if there is any safety signals that we are concerned about, we would let the public know straight away.”
AstraZeneca also said its own review had found no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country.
WHO said in a statement it’s advisory committee was assessing reports related to safety issues of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said: “As soon as WHO has gained a full understanding of these events, the findings and any unlikely changes to current recommendations will be immediately communicated to the public.
“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus.”
Countries that have paused the use of the vaccine
- The Netherlands
Can I choose which vaccine I get?
The short answer is no.
The NHS says: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has not advised a preference between the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in any specific population, stating that ‘both give very high protection against severe disease… and both vaccines have good safety profiles’.”
The vaccine programme is offering vaccines in line with the supply of vaccines available.
However, in certain circumstances the NHS may advise you to have a certain vaccine if you have other medical conditions.