Netherlands is latest EU country to suspend AstraZeneca vaccine

Netherlands joins growing list of EU nations to suspend use of AstraZeneca jab over blood clot fears after Irish medical chief spoke out against it and concerns grew with death of Italian teacher

  • The Netherlands has become the fifth country to pause its AstraZeneca roll-out
  • Ireland halted jabs on Sunday, following moves in Denmark, Norway and Iceland
  • Follows reports of ‘serious blood clotting ‘ in Norway in people who had vaccine 
  • Piedmont in Italy has stopped using batch of the vaccine after a teacher’s death
  • Comes as Sir Keir Starmer, 58, received his first jab of the Oxford-made vaccine
  • He issued statement saying vaccine is ‘safe, effective’ and urged people to take it

The Netherlands has joined a growing list of EU nations to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jab amid fears of blood clots after Ireland’s medical chief spoke out against it and concerns grew over the death of a teacher from Italy.

The Dutch Government announced the vaccine was being suspended until March 29 as a precaution, based on reports from Denmark and Norway of potentially serious side effects. 

Three health workers in Norway who had recently received the vaccine were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets, its health authorities said on Saturday. 

Netherlands is the fifth country to pause its roll-out, following Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. While Italy and Austria have stopped using one particular batch of the jab.

AstraZeneca, however, has insisted its vaccine is safe, saying a review of 17million people vaccinated in the UK and the EU shows no evidence of an increased risk of blood cloths.  

The number of cases of blood clots reported is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population, AstraZeneca’s chief medical officer Ann Taylor said. 

Italy has joined other European countries in suspending batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine following the death of a teach in Piedmont region. Pictured: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, 58, received his first dose of the Oxford jab at the Francis Crick Institute in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency

Use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should be suspended following reports of serious post-jab blood clots in Norway, Ireland’s deputy medical chief said. Pictured: Daily confirmed Covid cases per million people in Ireland and the UK

Irish authorities had been pushing the pharmaceutical giant to speed up its vaccine supplies to the Republic, where cases per million exceeded the UK’s figures during the peak of the January wave.

But, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland will act on a ‘precautionary principle’ and pause the AstraZeneca rollout following reports of ‘serious blood clotting events’. 

Dr Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said: ‘We are aware of the action in Ireland.

‘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.

‘People should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so.’

Dr Taylor said: ‘Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.’

AstraZeneca said its review had found no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country. 

It follows similar moves across Europe to suspend the use of the Oxford-developed jab over concerns of links to blood-clotting. 

Authorities in Denmark, Norway and Iceland have suspended the use of the vaccine, while Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots last week while investigating a death from coagulation disorders.

On Sunday, health bosses in the Italian region of Piedmont banned the use of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a teacher died following his jab yesterday.

The region had initially suspended all AstraZeneca vaccines to identify and isolate the batch from which the jab administered to the teacher, and has since banned its use.

A government statement did not specify what batch had been banned nor did it say how the teacher died. Italian newspapers reported it was batch ABV5811. 

It comes as more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK without reports of any severe reactions.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, 58, received his first dose of the Oxford jab at the Francis Crick Institute in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency on Sunday.

In a short statement he said: ‘The success of the roll-out by the NHS shows why it’s one of our country’s greatest institutions. The vaccine is safe, effective and I urge everyone to take it when it’s their turn.’

Out of the millions of jabs already given, fewer than 50 cases of blood-related issues have been reported post-vaccine, with no confirmed causal link. 

It comes as more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK without reports of any serious reactions

Norway halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine (file image) on Thursday, following a similar move by Denmark. Iceland later followed suit 

Health bosses in the Italian region of Piedmont banned the use of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a teacher died following his jab on Saturday

The European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication that the events were caused by the vaccination, a view that was echoed by the World Health Organisation on Friday. AstraZeneca also said it had found no evidence of increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis. 

Aifa, Italy’s medicine authority, responded to reports on Piedmont’s ban by confirming that no link had been established between the vaccine and subsequent ‘serious adverse events’. 

Norwegian health authorities confirmed that three healthcare workers who had the AstraZeneca jab were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets. 

Dr 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.’ 

Norway halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday, following a similar move by Denmark. Iceland later followed suit. 

All three individuals in hospital in Norway for conditions including blood clots were under the age of 50. The Government were notified on Saturday.

Senior doctor at the Norwegian Medicines Agency Sigurd Hortemo told a news conference this week: ‘We do not know if the cases are linked to the vaccine.’ 

Irish authorities have been pushing the pharmaceutical giant to speed up its jab supplies to the Republic after Boris Johnson made it clear that Britain would not send its vaccines to Ireland until people in the UK have had the jab. Pictured: A patient receiving a vaccine in Dublin

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland will act on a ‘precautionary principle’ and pause the AstraZeneca rollout following reports of ‘serious blood clotting events’ in Norway

Norwegian health authorities confirmed that three healthcare workers who had the AstraZeneca jab (file image) were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets

So far, more than 11 million doses of the Oxford jab have been administered in the UK alone, with countless more distributed worldwide.

Out of the millions of vaccines already given, fewer than 50 reported blood-related issues post-vaccine, with no confirmed causal link to the jab.

AstraZeneca, the World Health Organization and EU regulators have all rejected the blood clot fears.

But even so, Ireland joined Denmark, Norway and Iceland in temporarily halting all AstraZeneca vaccinations following reports of ‘serious blood clotting events’ in Norway. 

 Norwegian health authorities of Saturday confirmed that three healthcare workers who had the AstraZeneca jab were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets.

All three individuals in hospital in Norway for conditions including blood clots were under the age of 50. The Government were notified on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency reported one person in Austria was diagnosed with blood clots and died 10 days after vaccination – but it stressed there is ‘currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions’.

A further patient was admitted to hospital in Austria with pulmonary embolism – a blockage in the arteries in the lungs – after being vaccinated, while one death involving a blood clot was reported in Denmark.

A 50-year-old man is also thought to have died in Italy from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), while there has been an unconfirmed report of another death in the country.

Italy also followed Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in banning jabs from one particular batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccines, which was sent to 17 countries, after reports that a  49-year-old nurse died soon after getting one of the jabs.

And today, US boxer Marvin Hagler, died aged 66, after he reportedly suffered side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine.

What vaccine he received has not been confirmed and the link between his death and a jab has not been proven. 

The European medicine regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), would investigate the three incidents, Hortemo said.

Medical Director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency Steinar Madsen said: ‘They have very unusual symptoms: bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets.

‘They are quite sick […] We take this very seriously.’

Meanwhile, the EMA reported one person in Austria was diagnosed with blood clots and died 10 days after vaccination – but it stressed there is ‘currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions’. 

A further patient was admitted to hospital in Austria with pulmonary embolism – a blockage in the arteries in the lungs –  after being vaccinated, while one death involving a blood clot was reported in Denmark.

A 50-year-old man is also thought to have died in Italy from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), while there has been an unconfirmed report of another death in the country. 

Italy also followed Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in banning jabs from one particular batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccines, which was sent to 17 countries, after reports that a 49-year-old nurse died soon after getting one of the jabs. 

Earlier this week, EU regulators confirmed they are looking into 30 cases of blood clots among nearly five million people who have had a dose of the vaccine.

Ireland’s governing coalition has been under fire over the speed of its vaccination response. 

Around 600,000 doses of vaccine – across all manufacturers – have so far been delivered.

That includes the most elderly, those in nursing homes and healthcare workers. 

A statement from Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) said: ‘To date, the HPRA has received a small number of reports associated with blood clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

‘However, it has not received any reports of the nature of those described by the Norwegian Medicines Agency.

‘We will continue to monitor national reports very closely and continue to encourage the reporting of any suspected side-effect following vaccination with a Covid-19 vaccine.’ 

It said there is currently no indication that vaccination was the cause of these events and there may be alternative unrelated explanations for their occurrence.

The authority added: ‘However, the safety of the public is of the utmost importance, and it is essential that reports of potential safety concerns, even if very rare, are rigorously and swiftly investigated so that the public can be reassured and if required, appropriate action can be taken.’  

The EMA are looking into 30 cases of blood clots among nearly five million people who have had a dose of the vaccine.

Britain’s latest Covid wave is continuing to shrink as a further 52 people died after testing positive for Covid-19 today – down 37 per cent on last week

And today’s case total has dropped too, with a further 4,618 people testing positive. The figure marks an 11 per cent drop on the 5,177 positive tests recorded on this day last week

Anti-vaxxers hijack Marvin Hagler’s death after Tommy Hearns said boxing icon was ‘fighting the after effects of the vaccine’

Anti-vaxxers have hijacked Marvin Hagler’s death after Tommy Hearns said the boxing icon was ‘fighting the after effects of the vaccine’ despite his family making no mention of COVID and his son saying he was suffering from chest pains. 

Hearns made the unverified claim Saturday following the boxer’s death aged just 66, prompting conspiracy theorists to use the tragedy to promote their theories that the jab is dangerous. 

Hagler’s death was confirmed by a statement on his website, which read: ‘We are very sad to report that Marvelous Marvin Hagler died on March 13 of natural causes near his home in New Hampshire. He was a champion until the end. His family asks for privacy at this time of sorrow.’ 

Meanwhile, his wife, Kay G. Hagler, wrote on Facebook: ‘I am sorry to make a very sad announcement. Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.’   

Undisputed boxing champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler has passed away at the age of 66

Earlier on Saturday, his friend, former professional boxer Thomas Hearns wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of Hagler: ‘A real true warrior Pray for the king and his family.. he’s in ICU fighting the after effects of the vaccine! He’ll be just fine but we could use the positive energy and Prayer for his Full Recovery!’

Earlier on Saturday, former professional boxer Thomas Hearns – who was knocked out by Hagler during their famous bout in 1985 – wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of his old opponent: ‘A real true warrior Pray for the king and his family.. he’s in ICU fighting the after effects of the vaccine! He’ll be just fine but we could use the positive energy and Prayer for his Full Recovery!’

Following his death, Hearns shared: ‘Allow us to have our peace. Our love and respect to Marvin and his family, this is not an anti vaccine campaign… it’s outrageous to have that in mind during the passing of a King, Legend, Father, Husband and so much more.’

The American boxer – born in Newark, New Jersey – dominated the sport’s middleweight scene, which he was champion of between 1980 and 1987.  

He was also named as the Fighter of the Decade for the 1980s by Boxing Illustrated magazine and won the Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year award twice. 

A thorough analysis of all relevant reports will be performed, including those newly notified from Norway, authorities said. 

The preliminary assessment of similar events published by the EMA on 11 March found the number of blood clotting in vaccinated people was no higher than the number seen in the general population. 

And AstraZeneca said an analysis of its safety data covering reported cases from over 17 million vaccine doses given had shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia – having low levels of platelets.

‘In fact, the reported numbers of these types of events for Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the unvaccinated population,’ a company spokeswoman said.

Such trends or patterns were also not observed during clinical trials for the vaccine, she added.

Around 600,000 doses of vaccine – across all manufacturers – have so far been delivered.

That includes the most elderly, those in nursing homes and healthcare workers. 

AstraZeneca was approved for use early in the UK. Northern Ireland has made proportionately faster progress than the Republic in reaching the most vulnerable.

Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin held ‘positive’ discussions with AstraZeneca chief executive officer Pascal Soriot on Friday evening.

He has expressed frustration at the failure of the company to meet delivery schedules for inoculations.

Ireland’s Minister of State for Mental Health and Older people has said Ireland ‘is still on track’ to have all over-70s vaccinated by mid-May with the supplies they have received to date, despite disruption from AstraZeneca.

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca dismissed concerns that its Covid-19 vaccine is linked to blood clots – joining the WHO, No 10 and EU regulators in rejecting the fears that have led several European countries to suspend their use of the jab. 

The pharma giant said its analysis of more than 10million records showed there was ‘no evidence of an increased risk’ in any age group or any batch of doses, after Austria and others black-listed a particular shipment over fears of side-effects. 

‘In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than would be expected among the general population,’ the firm said.  

Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have suspended one batch of doses after a 49-year-old nurse died soon after getting one of the jabs. 

But AstraZeneca’s findings match those of the EU safety panel which says there is ‘no indication’ the nurse’s death was caused by side-effects from the vaccine and found that the batch in question is ‘unlikely’ to be defective.  

Despite Austria’s concerns, chancellor Sebastian Kurz sought to rally support for the AstraZeneca shot today by saying that he himself would be injected with it. 

Kurz, one of the world’s youngest leaders at 34, said he would take the jab in order to ‘show that I trust this vaccine’ which has become an unloved choice in Europe after top officials feuded with AstraZeneca and questioned the shot’s effectiveness.  

Germany and France are pressing ahead with AstraZeneca jabs, rejecting the blood clot fears, after Downing Street yesterday urged Britons to keep taking the shots.  

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris also weighed in by telling reporters: ‘Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine. There is no indication to not use it.’ 

‘AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used,’ she said at a briefing in Geneva.

No 10 has insisted the jab is safe and that Britons should continue to take it, pointing to the success the vaccination programme is having.

The PM’s office said: ‘We’ve been clear that it’s both safe and effective, and when people are asked to come forward and take it, they should do so in confidence.’

‘And in fact you’re starting to see the results of the vaccine programme in terms of the (lower) number of cases we’re seeing across the country, the number of deaths, number of hospitalisations.’  

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