COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Denmark temporarily stopped using the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of blood clots in some people, but its health ministry said on Thursday it had no evidence the vaccine was responsible.
Other experts say that of the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine shots fired elsewhere, including in Britain, the vaccine did not cause blood clots or related problems.
The Danish health authority said its decision was “based on the precautionary principle” that one person who received a blood transfusion after the vaccination died.
“At present, it is not possible to conclude whether there is a connection between the vaccine and blood clots,” the authorities said. Danish officials did not say whether the patient had any underlying conditions, but did not provide further details.
In a statement issued Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said that “the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks, the vaccine can continue to be administered,” while a more thorough assessment of blood tissue cases continues.
“Currently, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these conditions,” the regulator said. It says that the number of people who have been vaccinated with blood clots does not exceed those who have not been vaccinated.
Some doctors have suggested that people now immunized against COVID-19 are more likely to already have health problems, making it difficult to determine if a vaccine shot is responsible.
“The vast majority of people being vaccinated at this time are elderly or have a major illness,” said Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of England. “They will be at great risk for all kinds of negative results, whether they are vaccinated or not.”
Hunter says more than 11 million people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK have been reported to have a blood clot, and no shots have been fired. He said stopping the vaccines was also a risky decision in itself.
“When you stop vaccinating, you know that some people will die of COVID-19,” he said.
The suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark will take at least two weeks, the agency said, adding that it depends on the results of the assessment by the EU medical regulator.
“I think, like the others (pause), the consequences are unpleasant. “It is too early to conclude this case. When there is a risk, it should be investigated,” said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
Following Denmark’s announcement, Norway decided to reverse the example by temporarily suspending the Anglo-Swedish vaccine developed by Oxford University, saying there were no proven links. In addition, the Italian pharmaceutical agency on Thursday ordered the prevention of a certain batch of AstraZeneca vaccine after “serious adverse events”.
Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias told La Sexta TV that there had been no such incidents in Spain and that only minor side effects had been reported from the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr. Bharat Pankania, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Exeter in the UK, described Denmark’s decision to stop using AstraZeneca as a “drastic step”.
“The vaccine has been given to millions of people around the world. We have not had such reports of vaccine-induced exacerbations,” he said, adding that blood clots were likely to be “separate, unrelated events.”
The British drug regulator has said there is no evidence that the blood clot was caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. “People still have to go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when they are asked to do so,” it said.
But Hendrik Streik, a German virologist at the University of Bonn, says Denmark’s decision is right.
“It is not clear why, because vaccinations are being stopped now,” Streeck said in an interview with German n-tv. “In very rare cases, there may be a problem with a certain batch. “Now they are looking to see what caused the blood clot.”
“We do not want to put anyone at risk, but I do not care,” he said. “The right thing is being done in Denmark.”
On Wednesday, the EMA said Austria had stopped using a batch of COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca after a person was diagnosed with multiple blood clots 10 days after vaccination and one was hospitalized after a pulmonary artery blockage. The latter is now recovering.
As of March 9, the batch had received two other reports of similar problems, the EMA said, although there was no indication that the problems were caused by the vaccine.
The EMA said the 1 million doses in question had been shipped to 17 EU countries.
The German Paul Ehrlich Institute for Vaccine Control says it is in contact with the Danish authorities իշխան EMA, but that no dose of the batch used in Austria is available in the German market.
Cheng reported from London. This report was submitted by Frank Jord son of Berlin.
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