Netherlands suspends AstraZeneca vaccine despite safety assurances

pharmafile | March 15, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing AstraZeneca, COVID-19, EMA, EU, WHO 

The Netherlands has become the latest country to suspend the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid concerns it may cause blood clotting, cancelling 43,000 vaccination appointments.

The vaccine suspension follows similar moves made by other countries including Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland, and Thailand.

The Dutch government said the suspension, which will last until at least 29 March, was a precautionary measure whilst the situation was investigated following reports of deaths from clotting issues.

However, the WHO maintains there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and thromboembolic events and urges people to continue to get vaccinated.

The EMA’s safety committee is currently carrying out a review into incidents of blood clots – but says the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks.

The MHRA has also said evidence “does not suggest” the jab causes clots.

AstraZeneca’s chief medical officer, Dr Ann Taylor, said the number of cases of blood clots reported is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.

Dr Taylor said: “The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

About 17 million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with less than 40 cases of blood clots reported as of last week, AstraZeneca said.

Across the EU and United Kingdom there had been 15 events of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot in a vein – and 22 events of pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that has entered the lungs, reported among those vaccinated.

However, AstraZeneca said its review of safety data found no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, or thrombocytopenia in any defined age group, gender, batch, or in any particular country.

Italy and Austria have also stopped using certain batches of the drug as a precautionary measure.

Kat Jenkins

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