Denmark prolongs suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Copenhagen: Danish officials decided on Thursday to continue their suspension of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for three more weeks while they continue evaluating the vaccine’s potential link with blood clots.

The decision was made on the basis of presumed side effects, Tanja Erichsen of the Danish Medicines Agency said during a news conference.

Denmark paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure on March 11 after reports that a 60-year-old woman died with blood clots in several parts of her body a week after she received the vaccine, according to health officials.

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The death of a second person in Denmark who died after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine was reported shortly after. Danish health authorities said they have no evidence the vaccine was responsible for either death.

I would like to emphasize that I am not talking about ordinary blood clots,” Erichsen said. “It is not about blood clots in the arms, legs and lungs. 

It can’t be ruled out that there is a connection between the vaccine and the very rare blood clot cases, she said.

The pause will last at least until April 18.

Many may wonder whether we are overcautious. To that I will say, ‘You can say that” We have added extra precautionary principles, Danish Health Authority Director General Soeren Brostroem said. 

Brostroem said that when and if Denmark resumes using the AstraZeneca vaccine, people will be given the option of declining the vaccine from the Anglo-Swedish drug maker.

You can wait and get another one, he said. Denmark also vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Norway and Sweden also have paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Several European countries that had suspended using the vaccine have resumed administering it after the European Union’s drug regulator said it was safe.

The European Medicines Agency has said the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while a closer evaluation of the blood clot cases continues.

About 150,000 people in Denmark have gotten a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Right now, we believe that our basis for making a final decision on the further use of the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca is too uncertain, Brostroem said . Many studies have been launched, but we do not yet have any conclusions. That is why we have decided to extend the break. 

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