12 countries including Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine after reports the vaccine was causing blood clots.
Blood clots that form in any part of the body can break free and travel to the brain, heart or lungs. They can cause a stroke, heart attack or block circulation.
A 60-year-old Danish woman died of a blood clot 10 days after receiving the vaccine. Danish Medicines Agency has said that the woman had ‘highly unusual symptoms’, a low number of blood platelets and clots in small and large vessels. There have been other cases of people developing blood clots after getting vaccinated. Danish health authorities said the suspension would last for at least two weeks while the cases were investigated.
In Norway, three people under the age of 50 were being treated for bleeding, low blood platelet count and blood clots. All three showed symptoms after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Authorities have labelled their symptoms as ‘unusual’.
AstraZeneca has said there is no cause for concern with its vaccine. The vaccine developer also said that it had reviewed data on 17 million people who received doses across Europe and found 37 people had developed blood clots.
There is concern that the problems are coming from a particular batch of the vaccine.
The World Health Organisation supports the use of the vaccine and has said that available data does not suggest the vaccine caused the clots. WHO has also urged countries to not suspend the shots. The organisation also said it’ll be unwise to stop the shots for a virus which has claimed more than 2.7 million deaths around the world.
One of WHO’s top scientists, Soumya Swaminathan said, ‘We do not want people to panic.’
Furthermore, European Medicines Agency has also said in a statement that it has not found any evidence pointing towards blood clots linked to AstraZeneca’s use. The EMA has also said that the shot’s benefits outweigh the risks. They are reviewing the shot and are expected to issue a decision on 18th March.
However, these reassurances have not done much to calm fears as some countries have temporarily halted shots.
Germany has halted the vaccine on advice from their national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute which has called for investigation into seven cases of blots in brains of those who took the AstraZeneca shot. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany has received over 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and has used 1.35 million doses so far.
Italy and France have called their suspensions precautionary and will continue the vaccine’s use based on the EMA’s findings. In Italy, a teacher died after getting vaccinated. There is an investigation underway to find out if his death is directly connected to the vaccination.