Holland stops giving AstraZeneca jab despite scientists’ finding NO evidence of link to blood clots
The Netherlands is halting AstraZeneca coronavirus jabs for people aged under 60 after fresh reports of rare blood clots, Dutch health authorities said on Friday.
The move comes after five new cases were reported in the Netherlands in women aged between 25 and 65 while the UK’s regulator last night announced it has just seen 30 cases and similar clots after 18.1million doses. Seven people did among the 30 cases.
The suspension of the jab comes despite the European Medicines Agency insisting it believes the AstraZeneca jab is safe and that experts have found no specific risk factors such as age, gender or medical history.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation slammed Europe for its ‘unacceptably slow’ start to vaccination rollouts.
Meanwhile, the family of a 38-year-old woman who died after being given the AstraZeneca vaccine in France has filed a complaint with prosecutors in south west France as controversy surrounding the vaccine in Europe continues.
The Netherlands’ Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a statement: ‘We must err on the side of caution, which is why it is wise to press the pause button now as a precaution.’
The suspension of AstraZeneca jabs lasts until April 7 when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to come out with fresh advice on the issue, he said.
Germany had taken a similar decision earlier this week, the health ministry noted.
Netherlands is halting AstraZeneca jabs for people aged under 60 after fresh reports of rare blood clots. Pictured: Health minister Hugo de Jonge (R) visits a vaccine centre in Breda
This chart shows how Britain is still racing ahead of the EU in vaccinating its population against Covid-19. The UK has administered more than 50 doses per 100 people in its population, while Europe as a whole is averaging only 16.48 vaccine doses per 100 people in the population
The risk of dying from Covid-19 is significantly higher than the rate of CSVT blood clots, which haven’t even been definitively linked to the vaccines (Based on fatality estimates from Cambridge University and CSVT occurrences in Germany)
Around 10,000 vaccinations that were scheduled next week for Dutch health workers under the age of 60 have now been postponed, the GGD public health service said.
‘The immediate cause for the decision are reports of cases of extensive thrombosis in combination with low platelet counts after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ it said.
The EMA said on Wednesday it believes the AstraZeneca jab is safe and that experts have found no specific risk factors such as age, gender or medical history.
However it said it would release an ‘updated recommendation’ after its safety committee meets next week, the Amsterdam-based regulator said.
In France, the family of a woman who died of a blood clot at the age of 38 after receiving the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine have filed a complaint with prosecutors in southwest France, a lawyer said Friday.
The complaint was filed ‘against X’ – not targeting any individual or entity at this stage – a practice allowed in France when the circumstances of a case are still unclear.
The aim of filing the complaint with prosecutors in the city of Toulouse is to ‘obtain an investigation’, the French family’s lawyer Etienne Boittin told media outlets.
‘It is a complaint ‘against X’, because we have no element against a named person for manslaughter,’ said Boittin, adding that this ‘classification can evolve’ as the case develops.
The family of the woman, a social worker, ‘is not in a process of claiming or seeking responsibilities but simply wants explanations and clarifications on what happened,’ he added.
The woman – who was vaccinated in mid-March due to her work at a centre with disabled people – did not suffer from any particular health problem, added Boittin.
Her health deteriorated shortly after vaccination and she was hospitalised. She died on March 29 of a blood clot on the brain.
‘The objective of this complaint is to obtain an additional investigation – in particular an autopsy within a medico-legal framework – so we can know if this vaccine could have had a causal role in her death’, added the lawyer.
In France, the family of a woman who died of a blood clot at the age of 38 after receiving the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine have filed a complaint with prosecutors in southwest France
Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, has said there was no proof vaccine caused CSVT in any of the cases and admitted those people might have developed the condition anyway
Several member states have paused rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a tiny number of inoculated people, predominantly women under 55, suffered deadly brain clots
A TIMELINE OF THE ASTRAZENECA BLOOD CLOT SAGA
March 7: Austria suspended the use of one batch of the vaccine after a woman, 49, who had been given it died of a ‘severe coagulation disorder’ and a 35-year-old developed a blood clot in her lung.
March 11: Authorities in Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended all use of the vaccine following a 60-year-old woman in Denmark died of a blood clot after the reports emerged in Austria. Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke said: ‘It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link.’
March 11: European Medicines Agency’s safety committee began an investigation into the cases. It confirms 30 cases of ‘thromboembolic events’ – clots – were reported after five million vaccines in the EEA.
March 12: Thailand suspended the use of the vaccine off the back of European worries. Bulgaria also stops using it.
March 12: The European Medicines Agency, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Health Canada, the World Health Organization and AstraZeneca itself, all spoke out to defend the vaccine and say there is no proof it’s linked to blood clots.
March 13: The Netherlands, Italy and Ireland temporarily stopped using the vaccine as fears about the cases in Austria and Denmark snowballed.
March 14: Germany and France suspended the vaccine.
March 15: Spain, Portugal and Slovenia suspended use of the jab.
March 15: Professor Andrew Pollard, the Oxford expert who ran the clinical trials of the jab, insisted safety data are ‘reassuring’ and said ‘clearly those blood clots still happen’ as often as they would in unvaccinated people.
March 16: World Health Organization officials met to discuss the issue. European Medicines Agency is still investigating.
March 17: Scientists accuse governments of banning the jab on political grouns. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been a flashpoint in the past.
March 18: European Medicines Agency holds a press conference on its investigation and rules that the vaccine is ‘safe and effective’. It said there wasn’t enough evidence to rule out a link to blood clots, but also not enough to prove one. On balance, it would be safer for countries to keep using the vaccine to stop Covid. The investigation would continue.
March 18: Germany, France and Italy resume use of the jab after the EMA’s conclusion.
March 19: Finland suspends the jab after finding blood clot cases in its own population.
March 19: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Spain all confirm they will start using the jab again. Scandinavian countries did not follow suit and kept the ban in place.
March 22: A study is published that found public trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine collapsed in Europe at the time of the blood clot saga. A YouGov survey found more than half of people in Germany, France, Italy and Spain believed the jab was unsafe.
March 30: Germany bans the vaccine for people under the age of 60 after officials said they had found 31 cases of CSVT after 2.7million vaccinations.
April 2: UK regulators announce a total of 30 blood clots, 22 in the brain, have now been discovered in Britons vaccinated with the AZ jab.
France and several other European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations last month after briefly suspending the product over reports of blood clots in a small number of people who had the jab.
The French medicines regulator recommends the vaccine for those aged 55 and over after reports of blood clots in younger people.
The vaccine commission in neighbouring Germany said this week it recommended use of the jab only for people 60 and over.
The vaccine has been backed by the World Health Organization and the EU’s drugs regulator, which have said there was no evidence of a link to an increased risk of blood clots.
The same lawyer is also representing the family of a French medical student who died days after he received AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in the western city of Nantes.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into that case while emphasising that no link had been established yet with the jab.
It comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Wednesday said once again there was ‘no evidence’ to support banning the jab for people under 60, amid bans imposed by countries including France, Germany, Norway and Spain.
Analysis by the regulator found just 62 out of 9.1 million people vaccinated with the British-made jab worldwide had developed the rare brain clot, known as cerebral sinus venous thrombosis (CSVT) — a rate of about five per million. Forty-four of them were in Europe.
Meanwhile, Madrid has halted Covid jabs over the Easter weekend so medical staff can have a break – despite the World Health Organisation slamming Europe for its ‘unacceptably slow’ start to vaccinations this week.
On Wednesday, WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said: ‘Vaccines present our best way out of this pandemic … However, the rollout of these vaccines is unacceptably slow’ and is ‘prolonging the pandemic.’
He added that Europe’s outbreak was ‘more worrying than we have seen in several months’ and urged leaders to speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and ‘using every single vial we have in stock, now.’
Despite this, Spain’s Madrid region halted COVID-19 vaccinations yesterday at health centres for four days so medical staff can rest over the Easter holiday, despite pleas from the national government not to halt the fight against surging infections.
The shutdown came as the country scrambles to make up for lost time in its national vaccination plan due to supply shortfalls.
Health Minister Carolina Darias last week urged regional authorities to keep vaccinating over the Easter break, saying it was ‘very important’ to keep up the inoculation program.
In response to criticism from political opponents, which came about a month before a regional election, the Madrid regional government said its health centres stepped up vaccinations earlier this week to compensate for the closures.
It also noted that vaccine shots will still be administered at a city hospital and a city soccer stadium over the traditional Easter break.
Thursday — also known as Holy Thursday to Catholics — was a public holiday in the Madrid region, and its health centres — which are inoculating people over 80 and those unable to care for themselves — stayed closed. They reopen Monday.
Spain’s 16 other regions were reported to be administering vaccines as normal.
The EU is facing soaring infections – this week France imposed its third national lockdown and there are similar calls in Germany – as countries face a lack of vaccine doses which are being centrally allocated by Brussels.
The Bloc failed to order enough doses or grant vaccines swift approval and is now facing a crisis of confidence in the AstraZeneca jab – which leaders like Emmanuel Macron helped fuel during the EU’s bitter row with Britain over supplies.
Only 10 per cent of Europe’s population have received a first dose, compared to nearly 60 per cent of Britons.
On Tuesday, Europe’s medicines regulator slapped down fresh doubts raised in Germany after hospitals in Berlin and Munich banned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over sporadic cases of deadly blood clots.
But as Germany joined other states like France in banning use of AstraZeneca, EU officials this week continued their rancorous threats to block exports of the vaccine to Britain until they get the doses they believe they are owed.
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