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AstraZeneca suspension: Blood-clot risk ‘no higher in vaccinated people’

Europe's medicines regulator said Thursday there appeared to be no higher risk of blood clots in those vaccinated against Covid-19, after Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended use of the AstraZeneca jab.

AstraZeneca suspension: Blood-clot risk 'no higher in vaccinated people'
Photo:Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

“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,” the European Medicines Agency told AFP by email when asked about the suspension.

The Amsterdam-based regulator said it understood the Danish decision “has been taken as precaution”.

The EMA said the decision followed the regulator’s own announcement on Wednesday that it was “reviewing thromboembolic events reported in temporal association with the vaccine” after reports of cases in Austria.

The watchdog said it “will continue its assessment and EMA will communicate updates as soon as possible,” the agency said.

In its announcement on Austria on Wednesday, the EMA had said there had been 22 ‘thromboembolic events’ among three million people who received the vaccine across the European Economic Area, which includes Norway and Iceland.

The Danish suspension, which will be reviewed after two weeks, is expected to slow down the country’s vaccination campaign.

Austria said on Monday that it had suspended the use of a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving an anti-Covid shot.

Four other European countries — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg — have also suspended the use of vaccines from this batch, which was sent to 17 European countries and consisted of one million jabs.

Denmark however suspended the use of all of its AstraZeneca supply, as did Iceland and Norway in subsequent announcements on Thursday citing similar concerns.

AstraZeneca has said that an analysis of its own data did not show any increased risk of blood clots, Danish news wire Ritzau reports.

“An analysis if our data has not shown any form of risk of blood clots in the lungs or in deep veins within any age group, sex, in any batch (of vaccines) or in any country that has used AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine,” it said in a written comment.

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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