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EU agency says AstraZeneca vaccine safe, will add clot warning
At least three European Union countries are keeping AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold for now even after the bloc’s drug regulator said it’s safe to use.
Denmark, Norway and Sweden said they would wait until next week to decide whether to resume their rollouts of the shot after several people who received it developed blood clots.
They were among more than a dozen EU nations that suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations while the European Medicines Agency probed the blood clot cases, some of which were fatal.
The agency concluded Thursday that the British drugmaker’s vaccine does not increase the overall risk of blood clots, leading several countries — including Italy, France and Germany — to announce they would take it off the shelf.
But the three Scandinavian countries were more cautious, saying they wanted to finish their own national reviews.
Health officials in Denmark said they would not decide whether to continue their AstraZeneca rollout until after the end of the two-week pause. The country announced the suspension last week after a 60-year-old vaccinated woman developed “highly unusual symptoms” before dying from a blood clot.
“It is important that we together with EMA and the other drug regulatory authorities take our time to evaluate this type of reports thoroughly,” Tanja Erichsen, the Danish Medicines Agency’s acting director of pharmacovigilance, said in a Thursday statement.
Both Norway and Sweden said they would take the EMA’s conclusions into account as they mull whether to restart AstraZeneca vaccinations.
Officials noted the severity of some of the blood clot cases. The EMA, though, said they were rare — just 25 blood clot cases had been reported as of Tuesday out of about 20 million Europeans who had received the shot.
“Due to the situation with several serious cases in Norway, we want to thoroughly review the situation before we make a conclusion,” said Geir Bukholm, director of the Division of Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The three countries differed from their Nordic neighbor, Finland, which never stopped using AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Like the World Health Organization and AstraZeneca itself, health officials there noted that there was no evidence that the shot increased the risk of blood clots.
AstraZeneca’s US-listed shares were up about 0.6 percent in premarket trading Friday at $49.64 as of 7:40 a.m.
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