Sunday, September 25, 2022

Norway postpones decision on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

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OSLO: Norway will delay its decision on whether to resume the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, broadcaster TV2 reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources.

Authorities suspended the rollout of the vaccine two weeks ago after a small number of younger inoculated people were hospitalised for a combination of blood clots, bleeding and a low count of platelets, some of whom later died.

The TV2 report did not say how long a delay would last.

A spokeswoman for the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which is scheduled to publish its decision at 1200 CET (1100 GMT), declined to comment on the TV2 report.

Norway is one of over a dozen European countries to have suspended the rollout of the vaccine over safety concerns, although most nations have since resumed its use on the advice of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA has said the shot’s benefits in protecting people from coronavirus-related death or hospitalisation outweighed the possible risks. The World Health Organization has also backed the vaccine.

AstraZeneca has said a review of safety data of more than 17 million people inoculated in the United Kingdom and European Union with its vaccine had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

Norway has reported five cases in which recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine were later admitted to hospital with the combination of blood clots, bleedings and low platelets, three of whom have died.

A sixth person, who also got the vaccine, died from brain a haemorrhage in combination with a low count of platelets, health authorities have said.

Norway has been using vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna and hopes to use Johnson & Johnson’s once supplies become available in Europe.

The non-EU country is getting its vaccines via the European procurement programme, thanks to Sweden buying more shots than it needs and then passing them on to its neighbour.

Norway has had some of Europe’s lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic early last year, but is now seeing a rapid increase in hospitalisations led by more contagious variants of the virus.

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