Netherlands will keep using AstraZeneca Covid vaccine despite blood clot fears
Caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that the Netherlands will not join the six other European Union nations which have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 over concerns of blood clotting. One person died from multiple thrombosis ten days after vaccination, another was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism, and two others developed blood clots through March 9, the European Medicines Agency said.
All four were given a dose of the vaccine from batch number ABV5300, which comprised of a million doses delivered to 17 countries in the European Economic Area. The Netherlands is one of the countries which received vials from the batch, where at least one known case of thrombosis occurred.
"Our experts saw no reason to stop the injections. It is simply a good vaccine," De Jonge told broadcaster NOS. The blood clot incidents are "something that have happened after vaccination, not because of vaccination," he stated.
De Jonge commented after the Dutch medicines evaluation board CBG said there was no reason to suspend use of ABV5300 vaccine doses. "Thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are not known side effects of the vaccine," the CBG said on Thursday, echoing a statement from the EMA released a day earlier. "When large groups are vaccinated, as is the case now, you can expect such reports."
"The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population," the EMA wrote. Its Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) will continue to investigate the ABV5300 batch of vaccines.
"Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated."
Earlier in the day, the Dutch association for heart patients released a statement calling for De Jonge and public health agency RIVM to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine until the PRAC investigation is concluded and the controversy subsides. "We believe that this drug should certainly not be used for vulnerable groups, such as heart patients and people with other chronic diseases. At least for as long as it is not proven to be reliable for these groups."
Thus far, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine until the PRAC has more time to carry out their study. Apart from the Netherlands, the other European Economic Area countries which received the vaccine batch include Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Spain and Sweden.