Republic of Ireland suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting fears

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 26: A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Dobong health care center on February 26, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea started its Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination program today with AstraZeneca's vaccine for 785,000 medical workers and those who under the age of 65 at nursing homes. (Photo by Jung Yeon-Je-Pool/Getty Images)
So far, over 110,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Ireland, which is about 20% of all doses given to date. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je-Pool/Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland has suspended the use of the Oxford and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) coronavirus vaccine, Ireland's deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the move following a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after inoculations.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that there was no link between the vaccine and the increased risk of developing a blood clot, and that countries should not stop using the jabs.

Data shows that so far, a total of 589,512 jabs have been administered in the country, of which 452,927 were Pfizer (PFE) vaccines, and 117,507 were AstraZeneca and 19,078 were Moderna (MRNA).

Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that it was "aware of the action in Ireland" and added that the evidence doesn't suggest that the AstraZeneca jab is the cause of the blood clots.

"We are closely reviewing reports but, given the large number of doses administered and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause," MHRA said.

Glynn said: "This recommendation has been made following a report from the Norwegian Medicines Agency of four new reports of serious blood clotting events in adults after vaccination with Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca.

"It has not been concluded that there is any link between the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca and these cases.

"However, acting on the precautionary principle, and pending receipt of further information, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended the temporary deferral of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca vaccination programme in Ireland."

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Irish Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted that it was a "precautionary step."

The UK is currently leading the vaccination race in Europe, after becoming the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer (PFE) jab. Prime minister Boris Johnson said that the UK could "beat COVID in the coming months."

On Sunday, a further 4,618 people in the UK tested positive for coronavirus, with 52 deaths within 28 days of a positive test reported.

READ MORE: European Union turns to US for Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

Multiple European countries, including Norway, Denmark and Iceland have also temporarily banned AstraZeneca jabs following the blood clotting reports.

Italy's northern region of Piedmont said it would temporarily halt AstraZeneca COVID-19 doses after a teacher from the town of Biella died following his vaccination on Saturday.

It comes as the European Union was hit with another roadblock in its vaccination programme, after the pharmaceutical firm announced a shortfall in its vaccines on Saturday.

"AstraZeneca is disappointed to announce a shortfall in planned COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the European Union... despite working tirelessly to accelerate supply," it said.

Watch: COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns