A woman in Austria died from a blood clot shortly after an AstraZeneca jab
- Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have halted use of the batch
- Denmark, Norway and Iceland went further, suspending all AstraZeneca doses
- Italy paused a different batch after a naval officer died from a cardiac arrest
- Italy later announced that a second man had died in Sicily, recently given the jab
- EU’s medical regulator said there is no clear link between clots and the jabs
By Ross Ibbetson and Jack Newman and Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
Published: 10:20, 11 March 2021 | Updated: 23:45, 11 March 2021
A host of European countries including Denmark, Norway and Iceland have halted the use of AstraZeneca jabs amid fears they cause blood clots, while Italy has suspended a specific batch following two deaths in Sicily.
A nurse in Austria, 49, died from a clot on Monday shortly after taking the vaccine amid reports of a few similar cases across the continent, despite millions of doses being administered safely.
Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have suspended the use of the same batch given to the nurse in Austria, ABV5300, which was sent to 17 European countries and consisted of one million jabs.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday went further, suspending the total use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine pending investigations.
Denmark suspended the shots for two weeks after a 60-year-old woman, who also was given an AstraZeneca shot from the same batch used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died, Danish health authorities said.
Their response was also prompted by reports ‘of possible serious side effects’ from other European countries.
Italy’s medicine regulator banned a different batch of the jabs, ABV2856, after non-commissioned naval officer Stefano Paternò died in Sicily of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose.
A second man in Sicily has also died after recently receiving the jab, and a police officer died within 12 days of a vaccination, sparking an investigation by health authorities into any potential links to the jabs.
The moves come despite Europe’s own medical regulator saying there is no clear link between the nurse’s death and the jab, and UK regulators saying data shows those with the jab are no more likely to suffer clots than the general population.
The European Medicines Agency said in a statement: ‘The position of EMA’s safety committee… is that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.’
Many European leaders have frequently doubted the effectiveness of the Oxford vaccine which has subsequently seen a low uptake compared to other jabs.
But that did not stop the EU from blocking a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia using controversial export laws last week.
Authorities in Italy refused to grant a licence for 250,000 doses manufactured in the country to be exported, meaning the shipment could not leave as planned.
It comes after a host of countries including Germany and France restricted the AstraZeneca jab’s use to over-65s, claiming it was ineffective in the elderly – despite Europe’s medical regulator saying otherwise.
Those restrictions were largely dropped after data showed the jab works in all ages.
Scaremongering around the jab has led some Europeans to refuse to take it, with authorities in Germany forced to resort to threatening people who balk at it.
That has hampered Europe’s already-slow vaccine drive which has been plagued by supply issues and has seen just 10 per cent of people given at least one dose, compared to 36 per cent in the UK.
European countries are lagging behind the UK in vaccination numbers after fuelling fears over the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca jab
Italy’s medicine regulator banned a different batch of the jabs, ABV2856, after non-commissioned naval officer Stefano Paternò (pictured with his wife) died of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose
Denmark’s health minister Magnus Heunicke said authorities were probing whether there was a link between having the jab and blood clotting, after several cases and one death