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Six countries pause AstraZeneca vaccines following blood clot concerns

At least six countries have now halted the administration of AstraZeneca vaccines as a batch has been linked to fatal blood clots. Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have suspended use of one batch following a handful of dangerous blood clotting conditions in people who had recently had the jab.In Austria, a person died of multiple thrombosis — formation of blood clots within blood vessels — 10 days after they received the vaccine. A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism — where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs — but is now recovering.

As of Tuesday this week, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients in Austria that had received a dose from the same batch. Denmark also paused inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after blood clots formed in several people who had the jab, one of whom has reportedly died.

The country’s national health agency said it would reassess the situation in consultation with the Danish medicines agency in two weeks’ time, but stressed there was ‘good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective.’‘We are in the middle of the largest and most important vaccination rollout in Danish history,’ said Søren Brostrøm, the agency’s director. ‘Right now we need all the vaccines we can get. It is therefore not an easy decision to put one on pause.’

He added: ‘Precisely because we are vaccinating so many people, we also need to respond promptly and carefully when we have knowledge of possible serious side-effects. We need to clarify this before we can continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine.’

The health agency did not say how many reports of blood clots there had been, but Austria has stopped using one batch of AstraZeneca doses while it investigates the death from coagulation disorders and the illness from a pulmonary embolism.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the batch — labelled ABV5300 and comprised one million doses — had been delivered to 17 EU countries. Ireland is one of these countries. However, the EMA said currently, there is no evidence that the vaccine caused the conditions. The EMA said: ‘Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated.’

It said Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) were investigating the thrombosis conditions linked to the same batch as well as all other reports of thrombosis and related blood clotting conditions reported post-vaccination.

‘The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population,’ it said.

The EMA said as of Tuesday, there had been 22 reports of blood clotting conditions among the three million people to receive the AstraZeneca jab in the European Economic Area.

It said further information would be released as the investigation progresses.

AstraZeneca has said its shots are subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there have been ‘no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine’.

It said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support their investigation. Report by Emma Costello,

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