Belgium won’t halt AstraZeneca vaccinations after suspension in Denmark
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Belgium won’t halt AstraZeneca vaccinations after suspension in Denmark

Credit: Belga

As Denmark announced that it is suspending vaccinations with AstraZeneca for at least two weeks to investigate reports of possible side effects, Belgium said that it is not doing the same for now.

In Denmark, a number of cases of blood clots, and one death, have been reported following vaccination, but the Danish Health Institute stressed that a causal link between the complaints and the vaccine has not yet been found.

“Just because we vaccinate so many people, it is also important to react quickly when there are potentially serious side effects,” said Søren Brostrøm, director of the Danish Health Institute, in a statement, stressing that the campaign will not be scrapped, but only suspended temporarily.

“There is sufficient evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, but we are forced to respond to reports of potentially serious side effects, both in Denmark and in other European countries,” he said.

In Belgium, the Vaccination Taskforce is currently also investigating whether it needs to suspend AstraZeneca vaccination as a precaution as well, but stated that there were no known cases of someone with blood clots after vaccination.

“The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has launched an investigation and the Medicines Agency (FAMHP) and our experts are currently in contact with the EMA and are following it closely,” the taskforce told VRT.

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However, vaccinations will not be suspended yet, according to Dirk Ramaekers, the head of the taskforce, who added that anyone who gets their AstraZeneca vaccine today does not need to worry.

According to him, there is one particular “delivery” that requires Denmark to take precautions, and they are currently investigating whether that shipment was also delivered to Belgium.

“So far we know that this is a very safe vaccine. We have no arguments to support any other view,” Ramaekers told De Morgen. “Should the shipment have been delivered to our country, we must work with the agency and the experts to find out how best to intervene.”

Belgium also participates in the studies on side effects, but so far, the studies on AstraZeneca have never shown a link with blood clots, according to Ramaekers.

“In Austria, we do have someone who has died from a clotting problem, but if you vaccinate millions of people, then it is not illogical that every now and then someone develops such a clot,” he said.

On Twitter, virologist Marc Van Ranst underlined that the Austrian authorities “do not see any link between a vaccine batch from AstraZeneca and (rare) serious cases of illness after vaccination.”

The fact that the two occur together does not mean that there is a causal connection, according to Ramaekers. “Previously, deaths were also previously reported in nursing homes after a vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine, while research showed that these deaths had nothing to do with the vaccine.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times