A number of nations including the Netherlands, Ireland, Australia have suspended the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine citing possible side effects including blood clots. Meanwhile, the company insisted that its vaccine was safe.
Ireland also temporarily suspended the use of the shots following the reports from Norway, noting the move was a precaution as no direct link had been established between the vaccine and the adverse events.
Apart from the Netherlands and Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Thailand have also temporarily suspended rollout of the vaccine while Austria has stopped using a particular batch of the shots.
According to The New York Times report, US government has already purchase 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, although the vaccine is yet to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is still undergoing phase-three clinical trial.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) said it is investigating the reports of blood clot caused by AstraZeneca vaccine, its Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said: It remains unclear if the vaccine is causing the blood clots.” She then added: “The adverse events which are reported after vaccination have to be seen in the context of events which occur naturally in the population. Just because it’s reported following a vaccination doesn’t mean that it’s because of the vaccination. It could be completely unrelated.
Recently, Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating the death of a 49-year-old woman who died from blood clots 10 days after being administered the vaccine. Responding to the development, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that a preliminary probe found that there was no indication that the vaccine caused the clotting or the death. AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, has faced more scrutiny than its three other western counterparts developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. While trials have shown it to be safe, well-tolerated and effective in preventing disease, phase three trials that included confusion about the use of two separate dosing regimens has led to some bad press. While the vaccine was backed enthusiastically by the UK government—which had helped fund its development—European regulators initially held off on authorizing the vaccine for people older than 65 due to a lack of adequate testing data on the cohort. Though this decision was later reversed, the flip flop and bad press has dented public confidence in the shot which has forced German authorities to plead with people to take the vaccine.