Over the weekend, the Republic of Ireland suspended use of AstraZeneca due to reports of blood clots in Norway – the European Medicines Agency (EMA) says the AstraZeneca vaccine is still safe to use
The EMA is conducting a review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after reports from the Norwegian regulatory authority highlighted three reports of blood clotting in younger individuals after taking the COVID vaccine.
A fourth report of unexpected death from a brain haemorrhage in Tynset, Norway, led to the public health body issuing a warning to those who had taken the vaccine.
Northern Ireland will continue to use the vaccine, while the Republic of Ireland waits for the EMA to investigate.
There have been 30 reports of blood clots across 5 million doses
Geir Bukholm, Director of the Division of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwigian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), commented: “The NIPH has put the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold in the coronavirus immunisation programme. Now it is the Norwegian Medicines Agency’s role to follow up on these suspected side effects and take the necessary measures in this serious situation.”
There have only been 30 reports of blood clots across the five million people who have been vaccinated across Europe.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is a huge contributor of the UK’s efforts to reach 50% of population vaccination this week, which is producing real-world vaccine data for analysis.
Their results so far, assessing the older population in the UK, found that individuals over 70 were experiencing a protection rate of 60%. So far, the population data in the UK has shown the AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe.
On Thursday (11 March), the European Medicines Agency said in a statement: “EMA is aware that the Danish Health Authority has paused its vaccination campaign with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
“This was decided as a precautionary measure while a full investigation is ongoing into reports of blood clots in people who received the vaccine, including one case in Denmark where a person died. Some other Member States have also paused vaccination with this vaccine.
“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”
Could it be a medical coincidence?
When we investigated some of the online myths surrounding vaccination, we found that paralysis was being unfairly connected to the AstraZeneca vaccine. When people participate in a clinical trial or data monitoring, often they develop other illnesses that were due to happen with or without the vaccine.
Professor Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “The problem with spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to a vaccine are the enormous difficulty of distinguishing a causal effect from a coincidence.
“This is especially true when we know that COVID-19 disease is very strongly associated with blood clotting and there have been hundreds if not many thousands of deaths caused by blood clotting as a result of COVID-19 disease.”