Countries hit pause on AstraZeneca vax

March 12, 2021

A handful of countries have paused their use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following sporadic reports of blood clots, despite no clear evidence of a link.

Danish health authorities were the first to suspend all AstraZeneca shots for two weeks after a 60-year old woman who had been vaccinated formed a blood clot and died. Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria followed suit, suspending all AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Thailand has also delayed use of the vaccine, while Italy and Romania have stopped using shots from one particular batch. Austria has also halted use of doses from a single, but different, batch after a 49-year-old nurse died of "severe blood coagulation problems" days after receiving the vaccine.

But several European countries pushed back against decisions to halt the vaccine rollout — Germany and France among them, who plan to continue to administer the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency has said they have found no evidence of an increase in dangerous blood clots in connection with the vaccines.

According to the EMA, as of March 9, 22 cases of blood clots had been reported among more than three million people vaccinated in the European Economic Area. In fact they said the number of clotting events are actually lower in those vaccinated than would be expected among the general population.

AstraZeneca says there is no connection.

"An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca," the company said in a statement.

On Feb. 15, the vaccine received an Emergency Use Listing designation from the World Health Organization, allowing it to begin distribution in low- and middle-income countries. AstraZeneca hasn’t applied for emergency use authorization with the U.S. FDA. U.S. trial data is still forthcoming.

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