Germany joins list of countries suspending AstraZeneca shot over blood clot reports – National


Germany on Monday joined a growing number of countries choosing to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over safety fears.

Ireland and the Netherlands announced suspensions on Sunday. In Asia, Thailand announced plans Monday to go ahead with the shot. Indonesia, meanwhile, chose to pause.

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The suspensions follow reported cases of bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count in some recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark and Norway.

Iceland and Bulgaria had earlier suspended their use while Austria and Italy have stopped using particular batches.

Canada, France, the United Kingdom say they have no concerns and that vaccinations will continue.

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The World Health Organization appealed to countries on Monday, telling them not to pause vaccination campaigns.

Click to play video 'WHO says continue to use AstraZeneca vaccine as several countries temporarily pause distribution'

WHO says continue to use AstraZeneca vaccine as several countries temporarily pause distribution

WHO says continue to use AstraZeneca vaccine as several countries temporarily pause distribution

The WHO said its advisory panel was reviewing reports related to the shot and would release its findings as soon as possible. But it said it was unlikely to change its recommendations, issued last month, for widespread use, including in countries where the South African variant of the virus may reduce its efficacy.

“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

AstraZeneca’s shot was among the first and cheapest to be developed and launched at volume since the coronavirus was first identified in central China at the end of 2019 and is set to be the mainstay of vaccination programs in much of the developing world. The virus has killed more than 2.7 million people.

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Thailand became the first country outside Europe to delay rolling out the vaccine on Friday, when its political leaders were due to have the first shots, but the government changed its tune on Monday, saying they would receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday.

Indonesia, however, said it would delay administering the shot due to the reports of blood clots among some recipients in Europe and would await a review from the WHO.

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WHO says continue to use AstraZeneca vaccine, will investigate issues

The WHO had already said there was no indication the events were caused by the vaccination, a view also expressed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which said the number of reported blood clots was no higher than seen in the general population.

The handful of reported side-effects in Europe have upset vaccination programs already under pressure over slow rollouts and vaccine skepticism in some countries.

The Netherlands said on Monday it had seen 10 cases of possible noteworthy adverse side-effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine, hours after the government put its vaccination program on hold following reports of potential side-effects in other countries.

Click to play video 'Health officials reassuring Canadians the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe'

Health officials reassuring Canadians the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe

Health officials reassuring Canadians the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe

Denmark reported “highly unusual” symptoms in a 60-year-old citizen who died from a blood clot after receiving the vaccine, the same phrase used on Saturday by Norway about three people under the age of 50 it said were being treated in hospital.

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“It was an unusual course of illness around the death that made the Danish Medicines Agency react,” the agency said in a statement late on Sunday.

AstraZeneca Plc said earlier it had conducted a review covering more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and the UK which had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.


In Germany, the question marks over the vaccine caused a political row, with the leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder, saying the country needed clear guidance from its own experts.

Noting that some other EU countries had stopped using the vaccine, Soeder told a news conference: “That’s why there has to be an extra clear statement in Germany: is the vaccine good or bad?”

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The health ministry chose to suspend the vaccine “out of caution” on Monday. The ministry said the new guidelines stem from a new recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Germany’s authority in charge of vaccines

“Following a recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the government is, out of caution, halting the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” the ministry said in a statement.

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The reports of potential safety risks are taken seriously and data is examined constantly, a ministry spokesman told Reuters. Further proceedings would be discussed with the European and the national vaccine regulators this week, he said.

Click to play video 'Possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine'

Possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine

Possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine

Investigations into potential side-effects are complicated as the history of each case and circumstances surrounding a death or illness are examined. The Austrian authorities have said their review of the AstraZeneca batch will take about two weeks.

The EMA has said that as of March 10, a total of 30 cases of blood clotting had been reported among close to 5 million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot in the European Economic Area, which links 30 European countries.

The WHO said that as of March 12, more than 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered around the world with no cases of death found to have been caused by any of them.

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— with Global News files 

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