Coronavirus | Denmark drops AstraZeneca, Germany to switch vaccine

EMA to make recommendation on J&J shot next week.

Denmark announced on Tuesday it would stop using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine altogether, becoming the first European country to do so over suspected rare but serious side-effects.

Despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and European medicines watchdog to continue using the inoculation, “Denmark’s vaccination campaign will go ahead without the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Authority director Soren Brostrom told a press conference.

Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination rollout, after reports of rare but serious cases of blood clots among those that had received the vaccine.

More than a dozen countries followed suit but all but a few have since resumed the use after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) emphasised the benefits of the vaccine and deemed it “safe and effective”.

Denmark had, however, continued to hold off using the vaccine as it conducted investigations of its own.

In Denmark, two cases of thrombosis, one of which was fatal, were linked to vaccinations after more than 140,000 people received the jab made by the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker.

In the country of 5.8 million inhabitants, 8% have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 17% have received a first dose.

In Germany, people aged under 60 who have been given a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, will receive a different jab for their second dose, federal and regional Health Ministers agreed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Europe’s medicines regulator said on Wednesday it will make a recommendation on the safety of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus jab next week after U.S. authorities recommended pausing vaccinations over blood clot fears.

The “EMA is expediting this evaluation and currently expects to issue a recommendation next week,” it said.

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