Recently, Italy, France, and Germany announced that they would pause on AstraZeneca vaccine dosages. Many people reported having side effects and has left Europe distressed in an already struggling vaccination situation.
Norway and Denmark were the first two countries to stop giving the vaccine shots. They side effects reported by people included bleeding, low platelet count, and blood clot. Soon, Bulgaria and Iceland followed and then Netherlands and Ireland. Spain announced to stop use of the vaccine for 15 days.
Pause on AstraZeneca vaccine in European nations
The coronavirus affected European countries massively. The pandemic had hid countries like Spain and Italy during the initial times, and left a massive impact. The shortage of the vaccine by AstraZeneca was one of the disadvantages already. However, the growing number of side effects are concerning.
Recently, Germany announced facing third wave of coronavirus infections. Italy soon went into lockdown and many hospitals in Paris closed down due to overload. Jens Spahn, the Health Minister of Germany said that the risk of blood clot is low, but the vaccines still cannot be ruled out. He explained that his decision was professional and not political. According to Paul Ehrlich Institute, the vaccine regulators of Germany, it is smart to pause the usage of AstraZeneca vaccine.
France said that they suspend the use of vaccine, until assessment and further notice by EU medicine regulator. Italy announced that the pause was temporary and precautionary, and they are also waiting for their regulator’s approval.
Spain and Austria have stopped specific batches. While prosecutors from the northern Italian region of Piedmont seized 393,600 vaccine doses after the death of a man who died few hours after getting the vaccine. Sicily was the first to do so, as two people died shortly after getting the vaccine.
WHO asked countries not to suspend vaccine doses
World Health Organization appeals to countries to not stop vaccination against coronavirus, which has killed more than 2.7 million worldwide. Christian Lindmeier, a spokesperson from WHO said that there is no evidence that people are dying from the vaccine.
The UK has no raised any concerns similar to other EU countries. Also, Poland said that they benefits outweigh the risks. According to EMA, 30 blood clotting cases were reported by March 10 out of 5 million vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. These cases happened across the European economic area.
Michael Head, a research expert from University of Southampton said that decision taken by Germany, France, and other European nation to put a pause on AstraZeneca is baffling. Further, he said that the number of blood clots in people is same or possible lower in the number of people vaccinated against the ones not. The man also said that halting the vaccination will lead to adverse effects.
The delay in getting people vaccinated will make more and more people hesitant to take the vaccine at all. People who read the headlines will raise concerns. Moreover, there are no data to justify such decisions.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was the first approved and distributed
The first vaccine to be developed and sold at the cheapest cost was the AstraZeneca vaccine. It was in process from the time coronavirus was identified in China around December 2019. The was also considered the mainstay of vaccine programs in the world.
WHO reported to review data related to vaccine shots and will reveal them very soon. However, they are unlikely to change the recommendations as issued in February that allowed widespread and use. The vaccine was also said to be proven against the South African variant, even if it the vaccine offers lower efficacy.
EMA said that there are no indications that the events happened due to vaccination. Also, the number of cases reported of blood clots were not higher than what it is for the general population.
Side effects and ‘unusual symptoms’
The side effected reported in Europe are a handful. But the incidents are upsetting the vaccine program due to pressure. Moreover, skepticism among people and slow rollouts are other reasons why there are problems arising in the vaccination process.
According to Netherlands, they faced 10 cases with notable side effects due to the vaccines. Their government put the vaccination on hold, a few hours after there was news about the same from other countries.
Denmark reported to have “unusual symptoms” after a 60-year-old died due to blood clot. Norway used the same term to explain three individuals of around 50 who faced side effects and were hospitalized. The Danish Medicines Agency reacted to such unusual cause of death and the vaccine program paused.
One out of three health workers were hospitalized in Norway after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, there was no proof that the vaccine was the cause for sure in that case.
What AstraZeneca has to say?
The company is going to a review across 17 million people who took their vaccine in Europe. There are no signs of blood clot risk in these cases. The investigation of possible side-effects is difficult to retrieve as medical history of each case is different. Thus, the circumstances around a death is also tough to examine.
Currently, there is a vaccine trial going on with 30000 people. The results will be reviewed by independent monitors for determining if the vaccine is safe or not.