Dutch stop giving AstraZeneca vaccine to under-60s pending review

Andrew Cummings
April 4, 2021

Australian health officials will continue to administer AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccinations after a Melbourne man who had received the jab fell ill with a rare blood clotting condition.

The U.K. has seen a total of 30 such cases as of March 24, out of more than 18 million doses given.

A more detailed look at the MHRA's findings show that of the 30 cases, 22 related to cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which stops blood draining from the brain properly, and eight were connected with other thrombosis events with low platelets.

The World Health Organization has also urged countries to continue using the jab.

Professor Robin Shattock, an infections specialist and vaccinologist at Imperial College London, told Sky News: "It's really important to recognise that now there's no link to having the vaccine and having these very rare blood clots".

The health ministry estimates that 2.6 million doses of vaccine have now been administered since the campaign started in January.

Australian regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has said previously the AstraZeneca vaccine was not tied to an increase in overall risk of blood clots, however. This is only 12% of the adult population.

Other European countries, including France and Germany have made similar moves as the Netherlands.

The Netherlands on Friday halted vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 60 after five new cases among women, one of whom died.

Spain had restricted the vaccine for under-65s, but it reversed its decision, extending the roll-out to those over 65, on Tuesday.

The decision to suspend use of the vaccine is a further blow to the Dutch vaccination campaign which is running behind schedule. It has said a causal link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the vaccine is "not proven, but is possible", and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission (EC) has blamed pharmaceutical firms - primarily AstraZeneca - for not delivering the promised doses to the continent.

Meanwhile public health experts have said that there is no evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine is slowing in the United Kingdom despite some European Union nations temporarily pausing its rollout.

She added: "It doesn't look from the behavioural response, the surveys I've seen, that it's affecting uptake in the United Kingdom and that's really important".

Latest figures show that seven people have died from unusual blood clots after getting the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in the United Kingdom - out of around 18 million recipients.

She said: "These kinds of pauses and reviews are a sign that the system is working". Almost five million people have gotten their second jab.

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