Several European countries halt vaccination despite reassurance from health regulators
Ireland, Netherlands and Germany have joined a growing number of European countries who have delayed, or halted, the rollout of the AstraZeneca (AZ) COVID-19.
Ireland’s recommendation was issued by the countries Deputy Chief Physician, Dr Ronan Glynn citing research from the Norwegian Medicines Agency. The research in question mentions four cases of blood clotting in adults after vaccination. Dr Glynn said that whilst there is no proven link between the vaccine and blood clots, Irish health officials are advising that there is no rush to implement the AZ vaccine.
Similar precautions have been taken in Denmark, Norway and Iceland.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), European Medicines Agency (EMA), the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulations Agency (UK MHRA), and AstraZeneca themselves have denied any link between receiving the AZ vaccine and developing a blood clot.
The European Union's Medicines Regulatory Authority said in a statement on Thursday that "current reports of blood clotting do not currently exceed the amount that could occur naturally in vaccinated populations” – and does not confirm the concerns raised.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson said: "An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis” and that the recorded number of blood clots in vaccinated people was “significantly lower than would be expected in the general population”.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford vaccine group, said that the biggest risk we faced was still COVID-19 itself, that vaccines were saving lives and delaying rollouts would cost more lives. "It's absolutely critical that we don't have a problem of not vaccinating people and have the balance of a huge risk - a known risk of COVID - against what appears so far from the data that we've got from the regulators - no signal of a problem."
He added there was "very reassuring evidence that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe been given so far".