AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine suspended in more countries due to low number of blood clots

AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine suspended in more countries due to low number of blood clots

London – Sweden became the latest on Tuesday to join a growing list of countries to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. More than a dozen countries, most in Europe, have temporarily stopped using the vaccine as a precaution after a small number of people developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine.
But experts in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are calling it a disaster for the already delayed deployment of the vaccine on the continent. COVID-19 infections are spreading exponentially again in parts of Europe, even causing new lockdowns nationwide.

British drug regulators and AstraZeneca executives insist there is no link between the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and a higher incidence of blood clots.

Italy faces third wave of COVID-19


The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company which has partnered with the prestigious university to produce the drug said an examination of 17 million people in the UK and Europe who received the vaccine found less than 40 blood clots to develop. are developed – “even less than you would expect to find in the general population,” AstraZeneca said.

The incidence of clotting is similar to that seen with all vaccines, CBS News found, including Moderna and Pfizer formulas currently in use in the United States.

Denmark, Iceland and Norway were among the first to end use of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford on March 11. The next day, Thailand abruptly put the brakes on the vaccine just before its launch. The move was overturned on Tuesday when the Thai prime minister received his first dose of the vaccine and urged fellow Thai people to do the same.

Bulgaria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain have also decided to suspend use of the vaccine, with some saying they will wait at least until the European Agency Medicines – the EU’s pharmaceutical regulator – is issuing new guidance on the vaccine it approved weeks ago. since. The agency’s expert group was meeting on Tuesday to review the clot data.

Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg have all suspended the use of at least one batch of AstraZeneca vaccine delivered to various countries.

Oxford researchers are trying to combat variants …


” No proof “

The drug’s maker insisted there was no data to suggest a link between its vaccine and serious side effects, and several independent health authorities supported this position.

The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization both said last week that there was no evidence the drug causes clots.

“An analysis of our safety data from over 10 million records showed no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any age group, sex, lot or countries in particular, ”said a spokesperson for AstraZeneca. “In fact, the observed number of these types of events is significantly lower in those vaccinated than one would expect in the general population. ”

Officials at the European Medicines Agency stressed last week that “there is currently no indication that vaccination causes these conditions” and “the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine may continue to be administered ”.

On Monday, however, German officials said the pan-European agency was to decide later in the week “if and how the new information will affect the authorization of the vaccine.”

AstraZeneca executive on vaccine deployment in the United States


The UK pharmaceuticals regulator on Monday released new support for the vaccine, which has been in widespread use for weeks across the UK.

Dr Phil Bryan, Vaccine Safety Officer for the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said “Should always go get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.” ”

“We look closely at the reports, but given the large number of [AstraZeneca] doses given, and how often blood clots can occur naturally, the available evidence does not suggest that the vaccine is the cause, ”he said, according to the BBC.

Even countries that have suspended vaccine use in Europe have said there is no evidence that clots are caused by the blow of AstraZeneca – only that they happened after it was administered.

Professor Andrew Pollard receives COVID-19 vaccine from University of Oxford / AstraZeneca at Churchill Hospital in Oxford
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Professor of Pediatric Infection and Immunity, receives the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at Churchill Hospital in ‘Oxford, England January 4, 2021.

Steve Parsons / Pool / REUTERS

Oxford Vaccine Group chief Andrew Pollard said real-world data from the UK’s mass vaccination program recently showed a 94% drop in hospital admissions for those who received the Oxford vaccine – even more impressive figures than with the Pfizer formula. .

“We had no hospitalizations or deaths [from COVID] in people who have been vaccinated with the vaccine, ”Pollard said. So the real-world evidence confirms in real life what we’ve seen in clinical trials – it absolutely exceeded trial expectations. ”

American approval and public relations issues

The United States has stored tens of millions of doses of the vaccine, but AstraZeneca has yet to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency medical use authorization, pending the results of US clinical trials. A framework with the company told CBSN on March 5 that AstraZeneca hoped to apply for this authorization “in the coming weeks”.

Last year, the Trump administration pledged nearly $ 1.2 billion to AstraZeneca to help develop the vaccine at the University of Oxford in exchange for 300 million doses.

Easier and cheaper to manufacture and distribute than other vaccines already approved in the United States, the Oxford vaccine has long been considered the leading candidate for inoculation programs not only in America, but in the United States. whole world.

More than 70 countries around the world were using it until last week.

Recent safety alerts are just the latest in a series of vaccine advertising setback.

German patients hesitate to take the Oxford vaccine …


With trial data showing less efficacy than the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, some people in Germany and other countries were reluctant to take a “second class” injection. The government has also blocked its approval of its use for people over 65, citing a lack of specific test data, but the decision was overturned and German officials were among those criticizing the shutdown of the programs. vaccination in other European countries week.

South Africa has also temporarily suspended the vaccine after a small clinical trial found it did not provide enough protection against the infection with the COVID-19 variant that has swept the country.


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