Iceland and Norway are suspending the use of all AstraZeneca vaccines as the European Medicines Agency investigates reports of a patient in Denmark dying of blood clots after being inoculated, the Icelandic Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said on Thursday.
Speaking to CNN, Kjartan Njálsson, assistant to the director of health in Iceland, said that although there had been no reports of patients developing blood clots in the country, they are waiting for advice from the European Medicines Agency. “It’s the lack of data right now that concerns us,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health issued a statement saying the country had also chosen to “pause” inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine following report of a death in Denmark as a result of a blood clot.
The Norwegian statement also notes that there have been reported cases of blood clots shortly after receiving a Covid-19 vaccination in Norway but “mainly in the elderly where there is often another underlying disease as well.”
Neither Norway nor Iceland have indicated how long the suspension will last.
Some more background: Earlier on Thursday, Denmark decided to suspend for 14 days the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a “precautionary measure” as it investigates “signs of a possible serious side effect in the form of fatal blood clots,” Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.
Although several European countries have this week suspended use of vaccines from a specific batch of doses – batch ABV5300 – following reports of blood clots in a few patients, Denmark, Iceland and Norway are the first to pause use of all AstraZeneca vaccines.
On Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency said there was “currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”
Italy on Thursday “as a precaution” decided to ban use of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca batch ABV2856 due to “adverse reactions” but did not provide any further details on what those reactions might be.