French President Emmanuel Macron said during a press conference that the country decided to halt the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab as a precaution. He added that the rollout will resume immediately once the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union's regulatory authority for drug safety, deems the vaccine safe.
The German Ministry of Health also suspended vaccinations with the shot due to reports of blood clot cases emerging in connection with the vaccine. "The European Medicines Agency will decide whether and how the new findings will affect the approval of the vaccine," the ministry said.
In Italy, thousands of doses in the northern province of Piedmont were seized on Sunday, March 14, after a man passed away hours after vaccination. Reuters reported that the 57-year-old man fell ill and died hours after receiving the jab, for unclear reasons.
"It is therefore important to ensure that continued administration of the drug throughout the country does not lead to further consequences (harmful or fatal) … until we are completely sure that (the man's) death cannot be attributed to the above-mentioned inoculation," prosecutor Teresa Angela Camelio said in a statement on Monday.
The Italian Medicines Agency confirmed that it temporarily stopped administering the vaccine as a precaution.
Also on Monday, Spain's Health Minister Carolina Dias announced that the country will pause the use of the shot for two weeks as a precautionary measure. Prior to the announcement, only people under the age of 55 had been receiving the jab in Spain. (Related: Top vaccine scientist warns the world: HALT all covid-19 vaccinations immediately, or “uncontrollable monster” will be unleashed.)
AstraZeneca stated that there were 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated in 28 European countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The pharmaceutical company added that there is no evidence that its COVID-19 vaccine carries an increased risk of blood clots.
The EMA also reassured people about the vaccine. "Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the European Union for different reasons," the agency said, adding that the incidence in vaccinated people does not seem to be higher than what's seen in the general population.
Many other countries also decided to pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine over safety concerns. The Netherlands announced on Sunday that the jab will not be used until at least March 29 as a precaution.
The move is expected to cause delays in rolling out shots in the country, which pre-ordered 12 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab and scheduled around 290,000 injections in the next two weeks. But Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that the government could not "allow any doubts about the vaccine."
"We have to make sure everything is right, so it is wise to pause for now," de Jonge added.
The decision is based on reports from Denmark and Norway of people who developed blood clots after receiving the shot. Danish officials announced on Sunday that a 60-year-old woman who recently got vaccinated with the jab had blood clots, a low blood platelet count and bleeding before dying.
Three health workers in Norway were also hospitalized for similar symptoms shortly after getting the vaccine, Norwegian health authorities said on Saturday.
Both Denmark and Norway have suspended the use of the shot.
Other countries that put off the rollout of the jab included Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Romania. Outside of Europe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Thailand have also halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Learn more about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccines at Vaccines.news.