There are fears in Norway over the AstraZeneca vaccine causing blood clots and the country has decided to extend the vaccine’s suspension till April 15. The country first suspended its use on March 11 after some people were hospitalised because of blood clots, bleeding and a low count of platelets. All those hopitalised had been vaccinated. Some died.
The World Health Organisation maintains that the vaccine is safe to use and the benefits outweigh any potential risks. The European Medicines Agency has also declared the vaccine is safe.
“It is a difficult but correct decision to extend the pause for the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said Geir Bukholm, Director of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Institute.
Over a dozen European countries had suspended the use of vaccine over concerns over blood clots and low platelet counts, but most have resumed the inoculation drive. AstraZeneca has said that the vaccine does not raise the risk of blood clots and they have data to support their claims.
Three people have died in Norway after receiving the vaccine and being hospitalised for blood clots. One person died from a brain haemorrhage. Two more were hospitalised but they survived.
Norway is now investigating the deaths and is also waiting for another evaluation by the European Medicines Agency. The EMA will gather clinical experts and new assessments are expected from EMA in early April.
Consequences of the vaccine suspension
Since the suspension, the vaccines that have been received are in storage. There are currently 200,000 doses in storage. The suspension will also delay the immunisation programme by 1-2 weeks. Those who have received the first dose of the vaccine will not be offered the second dose will the suspension is lifted. Norway’s government has said that data from clinical trials and follow-up studies in the UK show there is good protection a few weeks after the first dose.