Norway has temporarily banned the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after three health workers who were recently administered the shots developed “unusual symptoms” including bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count, Norwegian health authorities said on Saturday (March 13).
The three workers are aged below 50.
Denmark and Iceland recently imposed a ban on the vaccine after reporting similar side effects in people. Italy and Romania have also halted the vaccine while Austria halted the use of a batch of vaccine to investigate a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.
“We do not know if the cases are linked to the vaccine,” Sigurd Hortemo, a senior doctor at the Norwegian Medicines Agency said at a press briefing held jointly with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
“They have very unusual symptoms: bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets…they are quite sick…we take this very seriously,” broadcaster NRK quoted Steinar Madsen, Medical Director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency as saying.
Hortemo said the European Medicines Agency would investigate the incidents.
Responding to the ban imposed on the vaccine by several European nations, World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “excellent” and it sees no reason to recommend stopping its use. It also said its advisory committee has found no link between the clotting cases reported by European nations and the vaccine.
AstraZeneca quoting its analysis of safety data compiled from cases from over 17 million vaccine doses, has said that there is no evidence of any risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or cause for low platelet count.