- Denmark becomes the sixth country to suspend the jab over blood clot fears.
- This comes after Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia also suspended its use to allow further investigations.
- The Government of Kenya says it will receive up to 25 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine free of charge as part of a grant by the COVAX facility.
Denmark has suspended the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine amid concerns it could cause fatal blood clots. (Getty)
Denmark has suspended the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID vaccine amid concerns that it could cause fatal blood clots.
The Danish health authority said on Thursday that it had temporarily stopped usage of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca after several cases of blood clots among vaccinated people.
It comes after five countries halted use of one batch of the AstraZeneca jab after concerns over fatal blood clots.
In a tweet, Denmark’s Minister for Health Magnus Heunicke said the measure was a precaution and it was not possible to say whether there was definitely a connection between the vaccine and fatal blood clots.
He wrote: “The health authorities have, due to precautionary measures, suspended vaccination with AstraZeneca following a signal of a possible serious side effect in the form of fatal blood clots.
“It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a connection. We act early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated.”
Read more: World Health Organization recommends use of Oxford vaccine in over-65s
On Thursday it emerged that Austria’s national medicines regulator had suspended use of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after four patients were diagnosed with dangerous blood clotting conditions after receiving their jab.
One person died of multiple thrombosis – formation of blood clots within blood vessels – 10 days after their vaccine, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.
A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism – where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs – but is now recovering.
As of Tuesday, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients that had received a dose from the same batch.
The EMA said there is currently no evidence that the vaccine caused the conditions, and that thrombosis is not listed as a potential side effect of the vaccine.
It said that the batch labelled ABV5300 comprised one million doses and had been delivered to 17 EU countries.
Four other countries – Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia – have suspended its use to allow time for the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) to conduct an investigation.
The EMA said: “Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated.”
It said PRAC were investigating the thrombosis conditions linked to the same batch as well as all other reports of thrombosis and related blood clotting conditions reported post-vaccination.
“The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population,” it said.
The EMA said as of Tuesday, there had been 22 reports of such conditions among the three million people to receive the AstraZeneca jab in the European Economic Area.
The news is likely to cause further problems in the take-up for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in some countries.
Last month, German officials pleaded with people to accept the jab after reports emerged of thousands turning them down, leaving full vials unused.
Reports suggested that essential workers were reluctant to receive the AstraZeneca shot after some experienced strong side-effects.
The issue came after confusion over the efficacy and usefulness of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU leading to a misconception among some that it is somehow second-rate compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines