Denmark extends AstraZeneca vaccine suspension

A nurse in Malmö prepares to administer the Astra Zeneca vaccine before the suspension

Causing most concern is a combination of blood clots, haemorrhaging and low blood platelet levels that was rare but occasionally fatal.

Countries across Europe, including Ireland, paused use of the vaccine for a number of days earlier this month after the Norwegian Medicines Agency reported serious side-effects in four patients.

AstraZeneca insisted Wednesday that its covid-19 vaccine is strongly effective even after counting additional illnesses in its disputed US study, the latest in an extraordinary public rift with American officials.

Among the elderly, among whom no cases of the rare side effect have been reported, and who are at a so much higher risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, he said, the benefits were much, much greater than any risk.

According to the ministry, in a letter written by the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to the Chief Secretaries of States/Union Territories (UTs) today, he has noted that Union Health Ministry has accepted the recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and has thereafter advised the states and UTs to ensure the administration of the second dose of Covishield to beneficiaries within this stipulated time interval of four to eight weeks after the first dose. "That is the reason why we are cancelling the break for people over the age of 65".

AstraZeneca said only that it didn't identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 1 million doses of various vaccines have been administered in Denmark, which has a population of almost 6 million.

AstraZeneca insisted that its COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection even after counting additional illnesses in its USA study, as the drugmaker responded to concerns raised by American officials in an unusually public rebuke that threatened to further erode confidence in the shot.

Approximately 150,000 people had already received AstraZeneca's shot in Denmark before it was suspended.

In a late-night press release, AstraZeneca said it had recalculated data from that study and concluded the vaccine is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic covid-19, instead of the 79% it had claimed earlier in the week.

"Many may wonder whether we are overcautious".

He highlighted growing frustration within the British drugmaker, which is forgoing profits from its vaccine in contrast with rivals such as Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech.

"You can wait and get another one", he said.

Officials in Ireland had said the decision to pause the use of the vaccine had been made on a precautionary principle. "That is why we have chose to extend the suspension".



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