A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. File photo
Danish health authorities said on Thursday they have put using AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine shots on hold for two weeks after reports of cases of blood clots forming, including one death in Denmark.
Danish authorities also said that they did not say how many reports of blood clots there had been, but Austria has stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.
The move comes "following reports of serious cases of blood clots among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine", the Danish Health Authority said in a statement.
"Both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to respond to reports of possible serious side-effects, both from Denmark and other European countries," the director of the Danish Health Authority, Soren Brostrom, said in a statement.
Vials and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo. File/Reuters
"It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We are acting early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated," Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter.
The vaccine would be suspended for 14 days. The health agency did not give details of the Danish blood clot victim.
AstraZeneca on Thursday told Reuters in a written statement the safety of its vaccine had been extensively studied in human trials and peer-reviewed data had confirmed the vaccine was generally well tolerated.
The drugmaker said earlier this week its shots were subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there had been "no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine". It also said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support their investigation.
The European Union's drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said on Wednesday there was no evidence so far linking AstraZeneca to the two cases in Austria.
It said the number of thromboembolic events - marked by the formation of blood clots - in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine is no higher than that seen in the general population, with 22 cases of such events being reported among the 3 million people who have received it as of March 9.
EMA was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board said in a statement early on Tuesday that it was concerned that AstraZeneca may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent several days in intensive care with COVID-19 earlier this year, called it “truly fantastic news” and “a triumph for British science.”
Several European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations as Germany and Italy announced they were using the jab again as of Friday.
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