The Netherlands suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s

The Netherlands Friday suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine for people under the age of 60, citing concern about an increased risk of blood clots.

In a statement, the government said there had been five reports of thrombosis and abnormally low platelets, which help blood clot, in women aged 25 to 65 (around 400,000 AstraZeneca injections have been given in the Netherlands, according to the same government statement).

Hugo de Jonge, the outgoing health minister, said “the crucial question is whether it concerns complaints after vaccination or due to vaccination … We must err on the side of caution, which is why it is wise to press the pause button now as a precaution.”

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Health Minister Jens Spahn said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would be suspended for those under 60. “We have to be able to trust the vaccines,” Merkel said.

France has limited the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to over 55s. 

In a report out Thursday, the U.K.’s drug safety regulator said it had identified more cases of thrombosis among recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, bringing the total to 30 — though it said the benefits of the shot still far outweigh the risks.

The European Medicines Agency has so far said that the vaccine is safe and advised countries to continue using it. However, the EMA’s human medicines committee is investigating reports into potential side effects.  

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