Further controversy over the AstraZeneca vaccine

by Lorraine Williamson
AstraZeneca vaccine
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MADRID – Spain follows other countries and now halts the AstraZeneca vaccine process as further cases of thrombosis have come to light. The European Medicines Agency continues to investigate.

On Friday, Spanish officials sought to dispel worries about the AstraZeneca vaccine. This was following reports of deaths and blood clots among people shortly after being vaccinated. At that time, Government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said citizens should feel confident about the Covid-19 vaccines. However, according to El País after an urgent meeting on Monday, María Jesús Lamas, the director of the Spanish Medication Agency said “From Saturday to Sunday we were made aware of a case of cerebral venous thrombosis. This was specifically of the venous sinuses, which developed with a reduction in platelets, which implies irregular coagulation activity. Fortunately, [the patient] is recovering, but that same day we found out about three similar cases in Norway. And Germany also identified four. We decided that this accumulation of cases of this particular and specific thrombosis warranted additional evaluation.

At the weekend the risk evaluation changed

Denmark, Iceland and Norway had already stopped all AstraZeneca vaccinations. Likewise, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Italy and Romania halted injections of specific batches.  Ireland then followed suit. And after the cases of cerebral venous thrombosis were discovered over the weekend, Germany, The Netherlands, France and now Spain are the latest counties to stop these vaccinations. Spain had previously announced it would only vaccinate people under the age of 55 with AstraZeneca. And as such, essential workers in this age range were being vaccinated. This includes teachers, firefighters, police officers and healthcare workers who are not in the front lines.

European Medicines Agency

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigation continued over the weekend. Futhermore, they say a rigorous analysis of all the data related to thromboembolic events will be carried out in the coming days. The Agency has also called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday 18 March to conclude on the information gathered.  And to provide clarity if any further actions need to be taken. A statement will then be made as to whether the AstraZeneca vaccine is related to these thrombotic events or not. However, in the meantime, while its investigation is ongoing, EMA currently remains of the view that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects”.

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Spain will also halt AstraZeneca vaccinations

As reported by Reuters, on Monday, Health Minister, Darias said Spain will stop using AstraZeneca´s Covid-19 vaccine for at least two weeks.

The number of Covid-19 vaccination doses administered in Spain was over 5million. Around 15% of which were made by AstraZeneca. Andalucia had the hightest number among all the autonomous communities with over 1millon doses administered.

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