Several Countries Suspend Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine

March 15, 2021 – A number of countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to reports that the vaccine may be linked to blood clots.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain became the latest countries to suspend use of the vaccine, joining Ireland, Denmark, Thailand, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Congo and Bulgaria.

AstraZeneca released a statement saying 15 cases of DVT and 22 pulmonary embolism have been reported among people receiving the vaccine in the UK and the European Union.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is “a precaution taken in light of their national situation”. But the EMA as well as the World Health Organization said the data does not show that the vaccine caused the clots and that people should continue to be vaccinated with it, as the benefit outweighs the risk.

“Thousands of people develop blood clots every year in the EU for different reasons. The number of thromboembolic events overall in those vaccinated does not appear to be higher than that seen in the general population, ”the EMA said in a statement.

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AstraZeneca has championed the safety of the vaccine.

“About 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of blood clot cases reported in this group is lower than the hundreds expected in the general population,” Ann Taylor, Chief of the medical service officer, said in a press release.

“The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond standard practices for monitoring the safety of authorized drugs by reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

AstraZeneca claims that clinical trials show its vaccine to be around 70% effective compared to the 95% and 94% effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively. All three are used in Europe.

The World Health Organization approved the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine on February 15. This enabled the United Nations to distribute doses to low- and middle-income countries.

AstraZeneca has announced plans to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA soon.

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Jothi Venkat

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