Lithuania halts the use of AstraZeneca vaccine

Thursday, 18 Mar, 2021

Pausing use of the jab was slowing the vaccination process down and damaging confidence in the vaccine in countries where cases were on the rise, Dr Cox said.

Vaccination campaigns had got off to a slow start due to scarce supply, but the European Commission said on Tuesday it expects to receive more than 200 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech in the second quarter, putting the EU on course to meet its targets.

Prof Jeremy Brown, from the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said on Wednesday that the move to suspend the vaccine "will cause more illness and more deaths" from COVID-19 than they would ever prevent in the "unlikely" situation that there is an increased risk of blood clots from a vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency, which previously approved the jab, is conducting a review of the vaccine but said in the meantime it remained convinced of its benefits.

NACI's initial recommendations were based largely on AstraZeneca-Oxford's clinical trial data and didn't examine real-world evidence past December 7 - months before the effectiveness of the vaccine was fully realized in other countries for older age groups.

And Poland's vaccination chief Michal Dworczyk charged that those suspending vaccination "have succumbed to the panic caused by media coverage of alleged complications". She noted that blood clots occur regularly in the population. "This is a very unusual vaccine rollout".

The EMA's comments come as concerns mount over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports emerged linking it to isolated cases of thrombosis, resulting in Germany, France and Italy pausing administration of the shot.

In Ukraine, even medical staff were succumbing to doubts, which were already widespread among the public before the blood clot scare.

There is now no evidence of a causal connection between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the now discussed health events "which can also occur in unvaccinated people", according to Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober, who called for "a common pan-European approach".

With the torrent of decisions casting doubt on the AstraZeneca vaccine despite assurances of experts, public opinion was tested once again to believe science over suspicion.

And Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was himself injected Tuesday as his country lifted its own AstraZeneca suspension. "I don't know", Bourque said. Infection numbers are well down, and AstraZeneca is a key component of the strategy to get the country out of lockdown. A small number of deaths have been reported.

And a fresh spike pushed the main Covid-19 hospital in Bosnia to the edge, forcing it to declare a state of emergency.

Deonandan said getting vaccinated with whichever dose is available is important as a third wave begins.

When asked if EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would take the AstraZeneca vaccine, her spokesman Eric Mamer said "of course".

"But it could be the case that the risks of the vaccine are higher for certain patient groups such as young women", Lauterbach, an epidemiologist whose party is part of the Berlin coalition, told Deutschlandfunk radio in an interview.