Cyprus, Luxembourg, Venezuela join list suspending AstraZeneca shot

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FILED - A German doctor prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine for injection on Wednesday. Multiple countries are suspending use of the Covid-19 vaccine from the British/Swedish company out of fears that its use is linked to internal blood clots. Photo: Ronny Hartmann/dpa

dpa/GNA – Cyprus, Luxembourg and Venezuela have joined the list of countries suspending the use of Covid-19 vaccinations made by the British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca.

Cyprus is temporarily suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations until an analysis by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is available on how to proceed, a spokesperson of the Cypriot Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday on RIK state radio.

Instead, Cyprus will seek to purchase 50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, though it will wait until EU health authorities sign off on the Russian vaccine.

The Luxembourg Ministry of Health made a similar announcement late on Monday, calling the suspension “a precautionary measure” until the EMA report is available.

With this step, Luxembourg is following the decisions of several other European countries, the ministry said.

The background to the move is reports of blood clots in connection with the vaccine, it said.

A list of European countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations temporarily on Monday.

Use of the jab has also been paused in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway.

The EMA, which recommended the vaccine for approval in late January, has launched an investigation into the vaccine, as have national health authorities in several European countries.

On Monday, the EMA said that it has so far not found any evidence the shot is to blame for reported thrombosis cases, but would continue its review, with a decision on further steps expected to be taken on Thursday.

The agency maintained that the vaccine was safe to use, saying that the benefits of protecting the population from Covid-19 far outweighed any possible side effects.

The British vaccine regulator also said the vaccine, which AstraZeneca developed in partnership with Oxford University, is not responsible for blood clotting, based on available evidence.

The latest suspensions added yet another chapter to the strained relationship Europe has with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Concerns about the vaccine’s safety have been percolating for weeks. At the same time, EU officials have been enraged at the company for failing to deliver batches of the vaccine as scheduled.

Venezuela decided it will not authorize the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca due to “adverse effects” around the globe, the Foreign Ministry cited Vice President Delcy Rodriguez as saying on Monday.

“Venezuela will not grant a licence to use the AstraZeneca vaccine due to adverse results around the world,” Rodriguez was cited by the ministry as saying.

Rodriguez, who heads the Presidential Commission to Control and Prevent Covid-19, said talks were under way with Russia to obtain Sputnik V doses which, she said, “have been very good,” as well as with China and Cuba.

Venezuela kicked off its vaccine campaign with the Sputnik V jabs, with President Nicolas Maduro promising that the country would receive 10 million doses of it by the end of March.
He said the government has invested 200 million dollars towards securing supplies.

The country also received 500,000 doses of the Chinese-manufactured vaccine Sinopharm earlier this month, according to a government statement.

According to official figures, Venezuela has recorded just over 146,000 Covid-19 infections and around 1,400 deaths in connection with the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would meet on Tuesday to review the available safety data on the vaccine, though its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was no evidence of a link so far.

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