A 60-year old Danish woman who died of a blood clot after receiving AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine had “highly unusual” symptoms, according to the Danish Medicines Agency.
The woman had a low number of blood platelets and clots in small and large vessels, as well as bleeding, it said.
A few similar cases were found in Norway and in the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) database of drug side effects, Danish Medicines Agency said.
“It was an unusual course of illness around the death that made the Danish Medicines Agency react,” it said in a statement late on Sunday.
Norway said on Saturday that three people, all under the age of 50, who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets, which were labeled “unusual symptoms” by health authorities.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland said last week they would halt the introduction of the AstraZeneca vaccine. France, Germany and Italy joined them on Monday, pending review by the European drug regulator, due Tuesday.
European vaccination programs have been upset in the last two weeks by reports that recipients of the AstraZeneca inoculation have suffered blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication that the events were caused by the vaccination, a view that was echoed by the World Health Organization on Friday.
AstraZeneca said on Sunday a review of safety data of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.
The issue is suspected to derive from a particular batch of vaccine doses.
Health Canada confirmed Sunday that Canada has not received any AstraZeneca vaccine doses that were part of the batch, which is now under investigation in connection with the blood clot reports.
Canada’s initial doses of the vaccine were manufactured by the Serum Insitute in India, not in Europe. Many of those doses have already arrived in Canada and are being administered in parts of Ontario.
“To date, no adverse events related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, or the version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, have been reported to Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the agency said.
Health Canada, along with U.K. and EU drug regulators, said they would continue to move forward with administering the vaccine, despite the suspensions.
The agency said the benefits of the vaccine “continue to outweigh the risks” and that it still “meets Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while experts continue to “inspect and analyze” any new vaccine, Health Canada has “guaranteed” that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe.
“Of course we are following what is happening to a specific batch in Europe, but we can guarantee Canadians that no dose from AstraZeneca came from the batches of concern in Europe,” he said in French during a press conference in Montreal.
“The health of Canadians is the top priority for Health Canada and we encourage people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. The best vaccine for you is the first vaccine that is offered to you, and that’s the one that you should be taking because that’s how we’ll get through this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
— with files from Global News
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