Health officials in a number of European countries suspended the use of the Astrazeneca vaccine on Thursday (11 March), citing concerns that the vaccine can cause potentially fatal blood clots.
Iceland, Denmark and Norway have all suspended use of the vaccine, with Italy and Romania pausing shots due to concerns about a specific batch of vaccines, the New York Times reported.
Denmark said it wants more research conducted before resuming inoculations with the company’s vaccine. Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke called the decision a precautionary move, following “signals of a possible serious side effect in the form of deadly blood clots” stemming from a batch of the vaccine, Bloomberg reported.
It said that AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. The company previously said the safety of the vaccine was demonstrated in clinical trials, while a review of more than 10 million shot records found no evidence of increased rates of the clots that can lodge deep in the legs or turn deadly when they reach the lungs.
The European Union’s drugs regulator said the benefits of AstraZeneca’’s Covid-19 vaccine continue to outweigh its risks, and the shot can still be administered while investigations of possible blood clots are ongoing.
It said that there is no indication that the vaccine was the cause of any additional deaths or conditions.
“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.
“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.”
Australia has already confirmed that it will continue to use the vaccine, while a number of European countries are continuing with their rollout.
In February, South Africa paused the rollout of the Astrazeneca vaccine after results showed that it was less effective against the Covid-19 infection from the 501Y.V2 Coronavirus variant, first identified locally in November 2020.
Instead, it opted to sell its batch of Astrazeneca vaccines to the African Union and is now relying on a supply of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.