The Netherlands and Ireland have joined a growing list of countries that have temporarily suspended the rollout of the Astrazeneca vaccine over possible side effects.
Ireland announced the two-week ban yesterday after Norway reported that one person had died and three had been admitted to hospital after receiving the shot.
Dr Karina Butler, head of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), said the country had taken the decision after Norway reported a “cluster of four serious, very rare, very serious clotting events… that would normally be involved and in younger people.”
“These very small but very rare serious events in people that you might not otherwise expect it, that raised a signal, a safety signal,” she said.
The Netherlands followed suit this morning, announcing a similar two-week ban on the Astrazeneca vaccine.
In a statement, the Dutch government said it was acting out of precaution following reports of possible serious side effects across the continent.
“We can’t allow any doubts about the vaccine,” Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said. “We have to make sure everything is right, so it is wise to pause for now.”
Thailand, Denmark, Iceland and Norway all suspended vaccination using the Astrazeneca jab last week during an investigation into a blood clot-related death of a patient in Denmark.
Various other European countries, including Italy and Austria, have temporarily stopped using two different batches of the Astrazeneca vaccine, after reports of a “serious adverse event” linked to one batch in Italy, and a death and illness in Austria related to another batch.
Astrazeneca has insisted there is no evidence of an increased risk of clotting due to its Covid vaccine, made in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
Scepticism around the Astrazeneca vaccine has continued to amplify after false reports in German media earlier this year relating to its efficacy among older patients.
Erroneous reports in various German media outlets in January claimed the vaccine was only eight per cent effective in over-65s.
German officials later U-turned on the figure, suggesting it had been a miscommunication from government ministers. But the headlines were enough to sow public mistrust in the vaccine across the continent.
Facebook this morning announced it will label all vaccine-related posts after the social media platform was accused of allowing misinformation to run rife.
In a blog post, Facebook said it will also launch a tool providing users with information about where to get Covid-19 vaccines and adding a Covid-19 information area to its photo-sharing site Instagram.
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