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As Nigerians and other African countries rejoice the arrival Oxford AsraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, European countries put a pause on its distribution due to blood clot side effect reports while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigates.
According to CNN, Denmark had suspended the use Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in what was announced to be a two-week suspension on Thursday following the blood clotting side effects reports in the country, including one fatal case. Iceland and Norway joined the suspension wagon without saying when the suspension would end.
Danish Health Authority said the decision is Temporary and Danish Health Minister, Magnus Heunicke also confirmed in a tweet, he said; “We act early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated,”
Speaking with CNN, the Danish Director of National Board of Health, Søren Brostrøm said “We are in the middle of the largest and most important vaccination rollout in Danish history. And right now we need all the vaccines we can get. Therefore, putting one of the vaccines on pause is not an easy decision. But precisely because we vaccinate so many, we also need to respond with timely care when there is knowledge of possible serious side effects. We need to clarify this before we can continue to use the vaccine from AstraZeneca,”
“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are putting it on hold. There is good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective. But both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries. It shows that the monitoring system works. “
Meanwhile Iceland Health Director, Kjartan Njálsson confirmed to CNN that there had been no reports of blood clotting in the country yet but waiting for advice from EMA advice said “It’s the lack of data right now that concerns us.”
Meanwhile, EMA on Thursday said it has not recommended suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine but aware that Denmark already did. The agency also stated that “currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” and also added that “the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while the investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”
According to Norwegian Public Health, the country decided to stop vaccinating due to reports of blood clotting side effects in Denmark and also due to reports of cases shortly after receiving the vaccine but mainly in the elderly where there is often another underlying disease as well.”
Spain’s Public Health Commission announced on Thursday that it was delaying the vaccination of people aged between 55 and 65 years old with the AstraZeneca vaccine until “there is a full review and conclusion of side effects by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).”
There have been reports that AstraZeneca vaccine batch ABV5300 had been suspended in Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia havee.
According to the EMA, 1 million doses of ABV5300 batch had been delivered to 17 EU countries. “Some EU countries have also subsequently suspended this batch as a precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing. Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated,” – said EMA.
In defence, on Thursday AstraZeneca said that patient safety was its “highest priority.” The company also added that “regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine, and that includes COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. The safety of the vaccine has been extensively studied in Phase III clinical trials and peer-reviewed data confirms the vaccine is generally well tolerated.”
Recall Nigeria recently, received 4 million doses of AstraZeneca of which President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo with other government have officials received doses and have commenced distribution to States.