Use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 has been suspended in Ireland following a recommendation made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). This decision was made following the development of blood clots in a small number of vaccine recipients in Norway. It is not clear whether there is any relation between the vaccine and these blood clots, and the suspension of the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine is merely a precautionary measure.
A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said that the company conducted an analysis on more than 17 million doses of their vaccine, none of which have resulted in an increased risk of blood clots. They argued that the numbers of blood conditions observed after receiving their vaccine are “not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the unvaccinated population.” The spokesperson added that “A careful review of all available safety data including these events is ongoing and AstraZeneca is committed to sharing information without delay.”
Prof Karina Butler, chair of the NIAC, talked about these incidents. She said “clotting problems happen to people irrespective of whether they get the vaccine” and that “to date, no reports of similar events to those in Norway had been received by the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority)”. She added, however, that the clotting events were “very rare, very serious events” as they were “clots involving the brain vessels”.
Before these events in Norway occurred, the use of the vaccine was halted in Austria, as they began investigating the death of a patient who had received the vaccine and died from coagulation disorders and the development of a pulmonary embolism in another patient who received the vaccine.
117,500 AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in Ireland, along with 426,800 Pfizer BioNTech vaccines and 19,000 Moderna Vaccines. As the majority of vaccines in Ireland so far have been supplied by Pfizer-BioNTech, it is hoped that this halt on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine will not have a major impact on the rate of vaccination in the country.