COVID-19 in Iceland: Vaccination Schedule Pushed Back by One Month Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Vaccination Schedule Pushed Back by One Month

By Yelena

Delays in the distribution of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine mean that it will take Iceland four weeks longer to vaccinate 50% of the population than previously assumed. Icelandic health authorities have thus updated their COVID-19 vaccination calendar, which projects that around 50% of the total population will have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, rather than the end of June as originally planned. Use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been suspended in Iceland while the European Medicines Agency investigates whether several reports of blood clots among those who have received the vaccine are causally linked to the drug.

Delays in Vaccine Delivery to Europe

Iceland is acquiring COVID-19 vaccines through the European Commission, which has signed contracts with six vaccine manufacturers. AstraZeneca is one of three manufacturers whose COVID-19 vaccine has been granted a conditional marketing licence in Europe. While the company initially promised it would deliver 150 million doses to European nations in the second quarter, it has since become clear that it will only deliver 70 million. As a result, Iceland will receive fewer doses from the manufacturer than expected in the second quarter, pushing back its vaccination schedule by around four weeks.

In Iceland, 9.27% of the population have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine (34,171) while just under 3.5% (12,888) have been fully vaccinated. It was originally estimated that 45,000 people would have been vaccinated in Iceland by the end of March, but that figure has been updated to 43,000. The newest distribution schedules indicate that 60,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Iceland in April from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, enough to vaccinate around 30,000 people. Iceland is also expected to begin receiving vaccines from a fourth manufacturer, Janssen, in the second quarter.

Use of AstraZeneca Suspended Temporarily

Last Thursday, Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason announced the country would temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine while European and Iceland authorities reviewed whether reports of blood clots were causally linked to the vaccine. This has delayed the vaccination of hospital staff scheduled for last Friday as well as today.

Preliminary results from the EMA’s investigations indicate there is no indication the AstraZeneca vaccine caused the blood clots and the vaccine’s benefits still outweigh the risks. According to the EMA, the number of reported blood clots also does not exceed what can be expected in a normal season for the number of people who have been vaccinated. As of last Wednesday, 30 cases of blood clots had been reported in Europe following the vaccination of approximately 5 million people in the EEA with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The National University Hospital published a notice stating that the institution had not received AstraZeneca vaccines from the batch that may be connected to the blood clot incidents.

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