20th Mar 2021
The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine is resuming in Ireland today after a precautionary pause during the week.
Its resumption of AstraZeneca follows a decision by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Friday after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the vaccine the green light, paving the way for its return.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has been investigating a number of reports of clotting events following vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab, but has concluded that it is effective and safe for use.
On Monday, Austria, along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Italy announced they would be pausing the distribution of that batch as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues its investigations into the potential link. Yesterday, Denmark, Iceland and Norway announced they would pause all AstraZeneca vaccine distribution, emphasising that it was a precautionary measure while the EMA looks into the claims.
In Austria, a 49-year-old nurse died just days after being given the vaccine due to apparent “blood coagulation” problems. It was one of four cases of “thromboembolic events” linked to a specific batch of AstraZeneca.
Head of EMA Emer Cooke said the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
However, the EMA “cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine”, and its safety committee has decided to point to the possible rare conditions by including details within the vaccine’s leaflets.
The EMA released their initial findings, which found no evidence of a connection and determined that the vaccine was safe. They said that there was no increase in blood-clotting issues across the three-million AstraZeneca-vaccinated population in Europe than would be expected in the general population. On Thursday, they encouraged countries to continue using the vaccine. while their investigation progresses.
“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” the EMA said. “The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while the investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”
This is the latest in a long line of issues with the English-Swedish firm’s vaccine, which has been plagued with questions over its effectiveness against new strains of the virus and long-running failures to fulfil vaccine orders. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that AstraZeneca had reduced the expected delivery of vaccines has put Ireland’s vaccine rollout well behind schedule.