Icelandic healthcare authorities have not yet decided when they will restart vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine, RÚV reports. A spokesperson for the European Medicine Agency stated yesterday that the vaccine was safe and effective and that fewer people had experienced blood clots than expected in the general population.
The European Medicine Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board found yesterday that there was no reason to hold off on vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some countries, including Iceland, had suspended the use of the vaccine as a precautionary measure based on reports of blood clots in people who had received the vaccine. A spokesperson for the European Medicine Agency stated yesterday that the vaccine was safe and effective and that fewer people had experienced blood clots after the vaccination than expected in the general population. The EMA’s safety committee found “the benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 (which itself results in clotting problems and may be fatal) continue to outweigh the risk of side effects; the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots (thromboembolic events) in those who receive it; and that there is no evidence of a problem related to specific batches of the vaccine or to particular manufacturing sites. However, the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, i.e. low levels of blood platelets (elements in the blood that help it to clot) with or without bleeding, including rare cases of clots in the vessels draining blood from the brain (CVST).” The committee also stated that these were rare cases. Of the 20 million people who had received the vaccine, the EMA had reviewed only 25 cases of blood clot conditions, 7 cases of blood clots in multiple blood vessels (disseminated intravascular coagulation, DIC) and 18 cases of CVST (Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis).
While authorities in France, Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain have declared that they will restart vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few days, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told RÚV yesterday that it was still unclear when Iceland would resume AstraZeneca vaccinations. Vaccination efforts are ongoing and 37.865 people ( over 10% of Iceland’s population) have received the first jab of the vaccine. The government’s goal is to have a majority of the nation vaccinated by the end of July. Infectious disease specialist and University of Iceland Professor Magnús Gottfreðsson told mbl.is that while Iceland’s situation was currently a good one and there wasn’t any pressure to restart AstraZeneca vaccinations immediately, it wouldn’t surprise him if it happened sooner rather than later and that is was the rational result of the European Medicine Agency’s findings.