Covid-19: Why Some Countries Are Suspending The AstraZeneca Vaccine

The Basics At least four European countries decided on Thursday to suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19. Blood clots have been seen in patients. The European Medicines Agency maintains its approval of the vaccine. France makes the same choice.

Should we continue to vaccinate against Covid-19 with the doses from the AstraZeneca laboratory? This vaccine is the most widely used in France because it is administered by general practitioners and will be available in pharmacies from Monday 15th March.

Four European countries decided on Thursday to suspend the use of this vaccine against Covid-19 on the precautionary principle. For its part, France decides to continue its vaccination campaign with doses of AstraZeneca.

Which countries have suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Denmark, Norway and Iceland announced on Thursday as a precaution and until further notice the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine, for fear of the formation of blood clots in the vaccinated.

Austria suspended a batch of the vaccine on Monday after the death of a 49-year-old nurse who succumbed to “severe bleeding disorders” a few days after receiving it.

This suspicious batch was immediately suspended by Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg. Italy made the same decision on Thursday. This batch of one million cans has been distributed in seventeen countries.

Is there a risk of a blood clot?

The link between the vaccine and blood clots has not been officially established. The countries that suspended the vaccine made this choice in the name of the precautionary principle.

“You have to be very careful. There is currently no clear and established link between the phenomenon of thrombosis and taking the vaccine,” explains La Dépêche professor Jean-Louis Montastruc, pharmacologist and member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“This type of pathology occurs every day without taking the vaccine. This does not call into question the value of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” adds Professor Jean-Louis Montastruc.

How is AstraZeneca reacting?

The AstraZeneca laboratory, which co-developed the vaccine with Oxford University, is defending the safety of its vaccine. “The safety of the vaccine has been studied in Phase III clinical trials and the data has been extensively studied […] confirm that the vaccine was generally well tolerated, “said an AstraZeneca spokesman.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine still approved?

So far there is no evidence of the risk of increased blood clotting in people who have been vaccinated, according to the European Medicines Agency. “The information available so far shows that the number of thromboembolism in vaccinated people is no higher than that observed in the entire population,” explains the European Medicines Agency.

22 thromboembolisms in 3 million vaccinated people were reported to the European Medicines Agency.

The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee is responsible for investigating cases of severe blood clotting.

What did the health authorities in France decide?

The AstraZeneca vaccine remains approved in France. “There is no need to suspend vaccination with AstraZeneca,” announced Minister of Health Olivier Véran during his weekly press conference this Thursday evening. “The benefit of a vaccination at this stage is seen as greater than the risk,” said the Minister of Health. Olivier Véran nevertheless seized the National Medicines Safety Agency on the matter.