Norway, Denmark and Sweden have continued to stop using the Oxford / AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine while France recommended not using it for people under 55, as other European countries gradually relapsed when the injection was spread amid questions about its side effects.
The countries have said they want to further investigate the possible role of the vaccine in a number of rare deaths with blood clots, despite an assessment by the European Medicines Agency on Thursday that its AstraZeneca vaccine is “effective and safe”.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it would decide whether to restart the vaccine next week as it needed a “more complete picture of the situation”.
Haute Autorité de Santé, a panel of experts advising the French government, said on Friday that the injection should only be given to people aged 55 and over because there was a “potential additional risk” of such as clots for younger adults, and wanted more time to evaluate additional data. French Prime Minister Jean Castex, 55, is expected to receive the AstraZeneca injection on Friday, as has British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 56.
There is a risk that the various proposals will further slow vaccination in Europe, which is held back by little supply, supply challenges and public suspicion.
They come as Ireland on Friday became the newest EU country to announce the release of AstraZeneca after Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Ronan Glynn, Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer, said on Thursday night: “Vaccines are not good if people are not willing to give them. . . Will last week be a challenge in that regard? There is no doubt that it will. But he said the decision to suspend the vaccine could boost confidence in the kick by showing “safety comes first”.
Norway wants the unusual combination of severe blood clots, swelling and low blood pressure that forced the hospitalization of five of its citizens after taking the AstraZeneca injection as a side effect. the vaccine could have, the Norwegian Pharmaceuticals Agency said the financials.
A study at Oslo University Hospital – where three Norwegian health workers were hospitalized with such symptoms, and where one died on Sunday – that the AstraZeneca vaccine had shown an unexpected immune response and did not there was no other explanation similar to the blood clots, bloodologist Pal André Holme told the media Thursday.
Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Group, told the FT that Norway maintained “all options open”, including the maintenance of the vaccine. He described six cases as “completely healthy people”, including young health professionals, making it a “slightly special situation”.
Authorities in Denmark, where a 60-year-old woman died of the same symptoms last week, said they would evaluate the EMA’s decision in the coming days while the AstraZeneca vaccine is still postponed until next week. Swedish authorities promised a decision next week. The UK is also investigating a possible link after recording five such cases, although it says people should accept the injection when it is offered.
Soren Brostrom, chief executive of the Danish Health Authority, said on Friday that he remained “concerned” about the issues. But he said Denmark’s success in keeping the pandemic at bay was also part of a decision in deciding whether or not to wait until next week’s resumption.
“If we were in the middle of a wave like the one this winter, it might seem that our assessment has been different,” he said.
The EMA has said its assessment only ran until Wednesday, so it did not take into account the decisions of the University of Oslo Hospital presented the next day and only looked at two cases from Norway. He reiterated, as does the World Health Organization, that the benefits of AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh its risks.
However, the EMA’s safety committee on Thursday acknowledged that it could be linked to “very rare cases” of blood clots with low levels of pests. They said it would update product information about the vaccine to provide more information about the risks. Norway argued that it should be added to the list of possible side effects as well.
AstraZeneca declined to comment. Ann Taylor, her chief medical officer, welcomed the EMA’s assessment on Thursday and said the company trusted “vaccines” [could] resume across Europe ”.
The EMA did not respond to a request for comment.
Additional commentary by Laura Noonan in Dublin