dpa/GNA – Officials in Ireland and a region of Italy have become the latest in Europe to halt AstraZeneca vaccinations following reports of blood clots and the death of a teacher in Italy given the Covid-19 jab.

The Piedmont region announced on Sunday it was suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations out of “extreme caution” until they find out if the vaccination is linked to a teacher’s death.

Luigi Genesio Icardi, the northern Italian region’s health commissioner, said the death of the teacher in the town of Biella was Piedmont’s first encounter with a suspected problem with the vaccine.

The announcement came as officials in Ireland also said they were temporarily suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations based on four new reports of “blood clotting events” in Norway.

Ireland later noted a “small number” of blood clots following vaccinations, however the country’s Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) said the reported clots were not of the nature described by officials in Norway.

Bulgaria, Denmark and Iceland had joined Norway in suspending the vaccine’s use on Thursday while research is conducted into possible health problems.

The halt is expected to further delay Europe’s sluggish vaccine rollout, while critics say it may reduce the public’s trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On Friday, Italy’s medicines agency Aifa stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca doses after a soldier died in Sicily. A link between vaccination and death has not yet been established.

On a national level, however, Italy’s government is sticking with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Health Minister Robert Speranza stressed in a Sunday interview with La Repubblica newspaper that all vaccines in Italy and Europe are “effective and safe.”

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