BERLIN — Officials in several European countries pushed back Friday against decisions by others to pause use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine following sporadic reports of blood clots, despite a lack of evidence the shot was responsible, AP reported.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that while the country takes reports of possible harmful effects from vaccines “very, very seriously,” both the European Medicines Agency and Germany’s own vaccine oversight body have said they have no evidence of an increase in dangerous blood clots in connection with the shots.
“I regret that on the basis of the knowledge, as of Friday morning, some countries in the European Union have suspended vaccinations with AstraZeneca,” Spahn told reporters in Berlin.
Denmark was the first to temporarily halt use of the AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday after reports of blood clots in some people. The Nordic nation’s health authority said the decision was “based on a precautionary principle” and that one person who developed a blood clot after vaccination had died.
Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria followed suit and suspended use of the Anglo-Swedish company’s vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford.
“Until all doubts are dispelled and experts guarantee that it holds no risk for people, we are stopping immunization using that vaccine,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told a Cabinet meeting. He said that the suspension will last until the European Medicines Agency issues a written statement that it is safe.
The regulator has said it is looking into the reports — but that vaccinations should continue in the meantime.
Thailand has also delayed use of the vaccine, pending an investigation, while Italy and Romania stopped using shots from one particular batch. Austria has also halted use of doses from a single, but different, batch.
That decision followed the death from blood clots of a 49-year-old 10 days after she had been vaccinated, and the hospitalization of a 35-year-old woman. Experts concluded neither complication was related to the vaccine, and Austria’s chancellor said Friday that he, himself, would be willing to receive the shot “to show that I have trust in this vaccine.”
“Experts here have a clear opinion and this vaccine is being used in many countries around the world, and it is already being used by tens of millions,” Sebastian Kurz said.
In fact, nearly every country that issued a suspension acknowledged that it had no evidence the vaccine had caused the blood clots. Health experts have pointed out that the people most likely to currently be receiving COVID-19 vaccinations are also more likely to have other health problems, which could put them at higher risk for blood clots.
France, Poland and Nigeria, meanwhile, said they would continue using the AstraZeneca shot even as national regulators investigate.