Netherlands stops use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of side effects
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Netherlands stops use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of side effects

Credit: Belga

The Netherlands has joined other countries in temporarily stopping the administration of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after the country’s Medicines Evaluation Board expressed concerns about possible side effects.

The country will not carry out new vaccination with this vaccine for the next two weeks, until Sunday 28 March, in light of more information being reported about the possible side effects, the Dutch Ministry of Health announced.

“Only over the weekend did more become known from Denmark about the patients and what was going on. It turned out that there was indeed a report of thrombosis, but a completely different picture actually than the normal thrombosis that starts in the calf and moves to the lungs,” said Ton de Boer, chairman of CBG, on the public broadcaster NOS’s news program.

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In the reported cases, the thrombosis was of the specific type that can occur in all sorts of places in the vessels and where the platelets are low, which increases your bleeding risk, said de Boer, adding that “that’s a totally different and more serious picture and more complicated to treat.”

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca itself has conducted a review and concludes that there is “no evidence” that their vaccine increases the risk of blood clots, it announced last Friday.

The announcement comes after several countries, of which the latest was the Netherlands, temporarily stopped administering the vaccine as a precaution, after Norway and Denmark reported new side effects.

Now, a similar case of blood clot development was found in a Dutchman, de Boer said, adding there have been more reports of these side effects, but“they’re that unusual, not like in Scandinavia,” explained De Boer.

Due to the pause in vaccination with AstraZeneca, some 45,000 appointments have had to be cancelled in the Netherlands.

Several other countries are temporarily not using the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution, including Ireland, meanwhile, in Belgium, health minister Frank Vandenbroucke said there was no reason to suspend the use of the vaccine on the basis of reports of blood clots, or thrombosis.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have also said there is no evidence of a risk of increased blood clotting in people vaccinated with this dose.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times