Germany halted on Monday the distribution of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, becoming the latest in a growing list of countries taking the precautionary measure over blood clot concerns.
The decision “is due to newly reported cases of thrombosis of the cerebral veins that’s timed around an AstraZeneca vaccination,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn at a press conference in Berlin.
“In the light of these newly reported cases, the [medical regulator] Paul Ehrlich Institute today reassessed the situation and recommended a suspension of the vaccination and further investigations,” Spahn added.
In its decision, Germany is following the Netherlands and Ireland, which both paused their rollout of the vaccine on the weekend. Several European countries have also announced either partial or complete suspensions of vaccination with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab after reports of blood clotting incidents.
So far, no regulator has confirmed a direct link between the blood clotting conditions and the vaccine.
“The [European Medicines Agency] will now decide whether and how the new findings will affect the approval of the vaccine,” Spahn said.
On Sunday, AstraZeneca weighed in the debate, saying in a statement that the numbers of adverse incidents have been lower than those expected in a general population.
“So far across the EU and U.K., there have been 15 events of [deep vein thrombosis] and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those given the vaccine,” the company said, adding that was “lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines.”
The World Health Organization has also backed continued vaccination with the jab.
Nette Nöstlinger contributed reporting.This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary trial.
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