COVID-19: More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Vaccine Over Blood Clot Fears

Several countries have suspended AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines amid rising fears over blood clots and other possible side effects.

AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish company that developed the vaccine with Oxford University, has insisted that there is no risk. 

On March 11, Denmark said it would suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure over fears of blood clots in vaccinated people.

Iceland and Norway followed suit on the same day, temporarily suspending the use of all the supply of the vaccine, citing similar concerns.

Bulgaria suspended the use of the vaccine on March 12 as it investigates the death of a woman with several underlying conditions who received the jab in the past week.

An initial probe suggested the woman died from heart failure and an autopsy found no link with the vaccination.

Thailand abruptly delayed the start of its rollout of the vaccine the same day. The country was joined by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Saturday, Norwegian health officials report three more cases of blood clots or brain haemorrhages in younger people who received the jab, but said they cannot yet say they were vaccine-related.

The next day, Ireland and the Netherlands joined the list of countries temporarily deferring the use of the vaccine.

On March 8, Austria announced that it had stopped administering a batch of the vaccine following the death of a 49-year-old nurse from “severe bleeding disorders” days after receiving it.

Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg also suspended the use of doses from the same batch, which has been delivered to 17 countries and included one million vaccines.

Italy’s medicines regulator on March 11 also banned the use of a batch as a precaution, triggering a similar decision from Romania.

And on Sunday, Italy’s northern Piedmont region suspended use of the vaccine after the death of a teacher who had received it the day before.

Amidst the suspensions, the Nigerian government said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine it received was not part of the batch allegedly causing a blood clot in some countries in Europe.

President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, some state governors and front-line health workers have received shots of the vaccine.

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), on its part, said since the country commenced its COVID-19 vaccination, no Nigerian has observed any adverse reaction; noting that all side effects reported by those who have taken the jab have been mild.

“We are aware of precautionary concerns that have been raised regarding one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, namely ABV5300.

“We understand that investigations are being conducted to determine if the batch is in any way linked to an observed side effect.

“While we await the outcome of the investigations; it is important to clearly state that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines with issues.”

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