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More countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations over blood clot fears: What we know so far

A trim worker holds a box of the AstraZeneneca vaccine at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Chaiwat Subprasom | SOPA Doubles | LightRocket via Getty Images

LONDON — The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has now been suspended in a party of countries across Europe and Asia, following reports of blood clots in some vaccinated people.

Many other states, however, have defended their use of the shot and said they will continue their respective inoculation stumps.

Thailand on Friday became the first Asian country to halt the use of the jab over safety concerns, shortly after Denmark stated a two-week pause to its nationwide rollout after reports of blood clots and one death.

In a setback to Europe’s ailing vaccination toss ones hat in the ring, seven other countries have also suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot: Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Austria and Italy, meantime, have said that they will stop using certain batches of the vaccine as a precautionary measure.

Europe’s poison regulator, the European Medicines Agency, stressed on Thursday that there was no indication the shot was causing blood clots, adding it believes the vaccine’s profits “continue to outweigh its risks.”

The EMA acknowledged some member states had paused the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot but said inoculations may carry on to be administered while an investigation of blood clot cases is ongoing.

As of Wednesday, around 5 million people in Europe had notified of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Of this figure, 30 cases of so-called “thromboembolic events” have been reported. These causes refer to blood clots forming in the blood vessels and blocking blood flow.

AstraZeneca has said the vaccine has been intentional extensively during Phase 3 trials and peer-reviewed data confirms the shot is “generally well tolerated.”

Why are countries waiting vaccination campaigns?

Thailand’s health ministry on Friday announced it would temporarily postpone the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, reportedly explaining the shot as a “good vaccine” but one it wishes to suspend for safety investigations.

Kiattiphum Wongjit, permanent secretary for the Public Robustness Ministry, said the Southeast Asian country was able to pause its vaccination campaign because it had largely brought a half a mo wave of Covid cases under control through quarantines and border controls, according to Reuters.

A press colloquium on temporarily halting the roll-out of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination in Thailand is held in Bangkok, Thailand, March 12, 2021.

Xinhua | Rachen Sageamsak via Getty Reifications

The country of nearly 70 million people has so far recorded around 26,600 cases and 85 deaths, according to information compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Thailand’s decision to suspend its planned rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which had been due to start out on Friday, came after the decision by the Danish Health Authority.

“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are oneself understanding it on hold,” Soren Brostrom, director of the National Board of Health in Denmark, said on Thursday.

“There is good manifest that the vaccine is both safe and effective. But both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of doable serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries.”

Many high-income countries secure chosen to continue the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of safety concerns.

The U.K., France, Australia, Canada and Mexico are magnitude some of the nations that have sought to reassure citizens about the benefits of getting the vaccine and have put they will continue their respective inoculation campaigns.

“An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million documents has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, group or in any particular country with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said.

“In fact, the observed number of these typewrites of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population.”

What do the proficients say?

The EMA’s safety committee is reviewing the issue, but has said there is currently no evidence the vaccination had caused blood clots — noting they are not listed as side consequences of this vaccine.

Europe’s drug regulator also noted that the data available so far showed that the figure of blood clots in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen among the general population.

“Reports of blood clots received so far are not renowned than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population,” said Dr. Phil Bryan, vaccines safeness lead at Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory.

“The safety of the public will always come first. We are discourage a keep this issue under close review but available evidence does not confirm that the vaccine is the cause. People should placid go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so,” Bryan said.

Southampton resident, Peter Brownsea receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from a fellow of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service at a temporary vaccination centre set up at Basingstoke Fire Station, Hampshire, south England, as teams continue to take 999 emergency calls.

Andrew Matthews | AFP | Getty Images

Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London Faction of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The problem with spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to a vaccine are the elephantine difficulty of distinguishing a causal effect from a coincidence.”

“This is especially true when we know that Covid-19 contagion is very strongly associated with blood clotting and there have been hundreds if not many thousands of deceases caused by blood clotting as a result of Covid-19 disease. The first thing to do is to be absolutely certain that the clots did not cause some other cause, including Covid-19,” Evans added.

How does the vaccine work?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a before you can say Jack Robinson no way designed to prevent the coronavirus in people aged 18 and older. It is made up of an adenovirus that has been modified to check the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The most common side causes of the shot, which does not contain the virus and cannot cause Covid, are typically mild or moderate and improve within a few hours of vaccination.

Late-stage clinical trials found the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot to have an average efficacy of 70% in protecting against the virus.

A myriad recent study by Oxford researchers found that the Covid vaccine was 76% effective at preventing symptomatic infection for three months after a individual dose, and that the efficacy rate actually rose with a longer interval between the first and second administers.

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.

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