Copenhagen (dpa) – Germany’s northernmost neighbor, Denmark, is the first EU country to say goodbye to the use of Astrazeneca’s corona vaccine.
The vaccination campaign would go ahead without the preparation of the British-Swedish company, the director of the Danish health administration, Søren Brostrøm, announced on Wednesday at a press conference in Copenhagen.
According to the Brostrøms authority, there is a link between Astrazeneca’s vaccine and very rare cases of unusual blood clots, bleeding and low platelet count. This, and the fact that the corona pandemic in Denmark is currently under control and other vaccines against Covid-19 are available, contributed to the difficult decision to continue the vaccination program without an effective and accessible tool such as Astrazeneca’s.
After Denmark moved away from Astrazeneca’s corona vaccine, the Czech Republic has expressed interest in the remaining doses. “We are ready to buy Astrazeneca from Denmark,” Interior Minister Jan Hamacek wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. However, it was unclear whether such trade is even possible under EU procurement rules.
Hamacek also acts as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague. People are trying to get vaccines all over the world, the Social Democrat emphasized. Unlike other EU countries, the Czech Republic continues to use the Astrazeneca vaccine without age restrictions. The minority government in Prague came under pressure from the initially slow vaccination campaign.
The responsible head of the Danish Medicines Agency, Tanja Erichsen, underlined at the press conference that they shared the view of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), according to which the preparation had more advantages than disadvantages. “Overall, this is a safe and effective vaccine for the treatment of Covid-19 diseases,” she said.
The health administration also did not rule out that the drug could be reused at a later date if the situation changed. It’s still an approved vaccine, Brostrøm said. If Denmark were in a different situation with a third wave of infections and a strained health system, it wouldn’t hesitate to use the vaccine again. “We are not saying we will never use this vaccine again,” he said. He also understands, of course, when other countries continue to rely on Astrazeneca in other situations.
The press conference had to be interrupted in the meantime when Erichsen suddenly passed out on the floor. She had regained consciousness and on her way to the emergency room for a medical check-up just in case, her authority announced on Twitter shortly afterwards.
Denmark had suspended vaccinations with the Astrazeneca preparation on March 11 as a precaution and initially for 14 days. This was due to reports of isolated serious cases of a rare combination of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet count in people previously vaccinated against Covid-19, including the death of a 60-year-old Danish woman. Subsequently, several other countries have also temporarily stopped using the vaccine.
After the EMA gave the green light for further use, Germany and other countries resumed vaccinations with the Astrazeneca vaccine in March, but mostly limited it to older populations. Denmark, on the other hand, had extended the stop by three weeks.
By the time it stopped, nearly 150,000 people in the country had received their first dose of Astrazeneca and about 600 their second. Everyone who has received their first vaccination with Astrazeneca will now be offered a different vaccine for the second. Without Astrazeneca, the Danish vaccination campaign will now take several weeks longer than planned.
In total, almost one million people in Denmark, with its approximately 5.8 million inhabitants, received their first Corona vaccination, almost half of them their second vaccination. Most of them have been vaccinated with the Biontech / Pfizer preparation.