Spain will stop using the vaccine for two weeks, the country’s Health Minister Carolina Darias announced on Monday.
It is a “temporary and preventive” suspension, he said, “until the European Medicines Agency can assess the risks.”
After initially standing by the safety of the vaccine, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday that the country would stop inoculations as a precaution, following reports of a handful of cases of blood clots. in people vaccinated with AstraZeneca shot in Denmark and Norway.
France and Italy also stopped launching the vaccine on Monday, pending a review of the EU’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), although the body later reiterated its advice. that countries join the launch.
“We have decided to suspend the use of AstraZeneca as a precautionary measure and we hope to resume it soon if the EMA’s councils allow it,” French President Emmanuel Macron told a news conference on Monday.
The suspensions came hours after prosecutors in northern Italy ordered a batch of the vaccine confiscated, citing a man who fell ill and died after being shot. The Italian drug agency also suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine “preventively and temporarily,” ahead of the EMA meeting, the Italian drug agency AIFA announced Monday.
Much of Europe has stopped firing for the time being, following the death of a woman in Denmark who has not yet been linked to a vaccine. Another death was also reported in Norway on Monday, along with a handful of non-fatal cases in both countries.
The suspensions go against the advice of the World Health Organization, the EMA and the pharmaceutical giant itself, which has said there is no evidence of a link to coagulation and that the releases should continue while they investigate the reports.
“To date, there is no evidence that the incidents were caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue to save lives and stop serious disease from the virus,” the WHO said in a statement to CNN. The organization added that it was evaluating the latest reports, but said any change in its recommendations would be “unlikely”.
The EMA also reiterated that countries should continue their implementation, adding that it would meet on Thursday to discuss concerns, but that the benefit of vaccinations outweighs the potential risks.
“While the investigation is ongoing, EMA remains of the opinion that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.” said the agency.
More than eleven million AstraZeneca spikes have been delivered in the UK, which is now one of the few European countries still supporting the vaccine. Spahn said he spoke with his counterpart in the UK before stopping the deployment of Germany.
AstraZeneca doubled the security of its firings on Sunday, saying a careful review of the 17 million people inoculated in the EU and Britain found again that there was “no evidence” of a clot link.
It found that of these millions of people, there were 15 events of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported after vaccination; less than the number expected to occur naturally within this population size.
However, the death of a woman in Denmark caused several countries to stop its implementation until the reviews had been carried out. The Danish Medicines Agency said on Monday that the woman in question had an “unusual” combination of symptoms before she died.
On Monday, the Norwegian hospital in Rikshospitalet reported the death of another person inoculated with severe cases of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts.
In the Netherlands, a laboratory that monitors the use of pharmaceuticals said it has received reports of 10 cases of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, but none had the platelet disease that ‘had observed in Norway and Denmark.
The UK has by far led the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with more than 11 million people receiving a dose, and has also stood by. Real-world data from the country have also shown that it has a significant impact on reducing Covid-19 hospitalizations.
Wave of infections in Europe
Citizens were banned from traveling between regions as of Monday and were told the entire nation would be considered a “red zone” over the Easter weekend.
Restrictions mean that once again, many Italians are unable to celebrate Easter with their families. “I am aware that today’s measures will have consequences on the education of children, on the economy and also on the psychological state of all of us,” Draghi admitted last Friday, when the measures were approved by his cabinet.
But the picture is also bleak across Europe, where several countries are scrambling to respond to an increase in infections.
On Monday, Germany recorded another increase in cases. In France, hospitalizations are rising again and the situation became so strong in Paris over the weekend that leaders began evacuating about 100 Covid-19 patients from the region, alleging increased pressure on the hospitals.
Patients will be transferred to “other regions where the situation in the ICU is less tense,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Sunday. Paris hospitals were already canceling many surgeries to deal with the outbreak, and Health Minister Olivier Véran said a coronavirus patient was admitted to his intensive care units every 12 minutes.
The main cause of the wave of infections across the continent appears to be the most contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the UK; in France, the chain now accounts for 66% of cases, according to the latest official data.
This variant wreaked havoc in Britain over Christmas and early New Year, which quickly added to the death toll in the UK, the highest in Europe with more than 125,000 deaths.
Strict blockade and swift vaccination action have been combined to drastically reduce UK cases and relieve pressure on hospitals.
CNN’s Nicola Ruotolo, Niamh Kennedy, Paula Newton, Mick Krever, Al Goodman and James Frater contributed to the information.
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