Denmark on Wednesday will become the first country to entirely cease administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following its possible link to very rare cases of blood clots, several Danish media outlets reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
The decision, which would remove the shot from Denmark’s vaccination scheme, could delay the country’s vaccine rollout by up to four weeks, based on previous statements by health bodies.
Danish health authorities will hold a media briefing at 1200 GMT where they are expected to announce the decision to halt using the vaccine and present a new timeline for the country’s vaccination programme.
The European Union’s drug watchdog said last week it had found a possible link between the vaccine and very rare blood clot cases, but said the risk of dying from COVID-19 was “much greater” than the risk of mortality from rare side effects.
The regulator, however, left it to individual states to make their own risk assessments and decide how administer the vaccine based on local conditions that vary widely across the bloc.
A spate of countries across the world, including France and Germany, have resumed administering the shot to some age groups, mostly those above 50 or 60.
Denmark, a country of 5.8 million people, is in the process of reopening schools, restaurants, shopping malls and cultural activities, after the daily infection rate has slowed to 500-600 a day from several thousand in December.
Danish Health Authority director Soren Brostrom said last month that Denmark “follows a precautionary principle” with regards to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It was the first country to initially suspend all usage of the vaccine in March over safety concerns and has also put Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on pause pending further investigations into a possible link to rare blood clot cases.
Almost one million Danes have received their first jabs, 77% with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, 7.8% with Moderna’s shot and 15.3% with AstraZeneca’s, before it was suspended.
Photo: EPA-EFE/CIRO FUSCO