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Media hype on Denmark’s decision to halt AZD1222 vaccination

While media reports suggest AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 jab might have caused blot clots, the EMA didn’t confirm a causal relationship.

Since Denmark suspended vaccination with AstraZeneca’s bashed Covid-19 vaccine, AZD1222 is facing questions over its safety. Denmark’s “precautionary” investigations over blood clots seen in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, follow an investigation into a batch of AZD1222 after two serious cases of thombosis in Austria.

The European Medicines Agency suggested that there was no specific issue with batch ABV5300, which had been shipped to 17 European countries, including Denmark. According to the EU regulatory authority, there had been 22 thromboembolic events among the three million people vaccinated with AZD1222, which it said was no higher than the rate seen in the general population.

Thromoembolic events, however, seemed to be associated with another jab using an adenoviral vector:  Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ-78436735. In JNJ’s pivotal trial there were 15 events in the vaccine arm and 10 in the placebo arm, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, the events were to rare to proove a causal relationship. The EMA recommended the JNJ vaccine for EU conditional marketing authorisation. The decision was applauded by the member of the European Parliament, Dr Peter Liese, who criticized shortcomings in timely delivery of AZD1222 to the EU-27 member states.

It’s not clear if the news will affect AZD1222 uptake in the long term. However, it’s clear that it will not contribute to the reassurance of vaccination sceptics. As of 8 March 2021, about 1.1 million Germans were vaccinated with AZD1222, while roughly 3.2 million shots had been delivered to vaccination centres – a first hint to vaccination scepticism?