CANADIAN EXPERT PANEL URGES FREEZE IN USE OF ASTRAZENECA JABS
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which oversees the country's coronavirus vaccine campaign, is recommending suspension of the vaccine from AstraZeneca for people younger than 55, Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa).
"NACI recommends that AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine should not be used in adults under 55 years of age at this time while the safety signal of vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) following vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is investigated further," it said in a statement.
There had been reports of rare blood clots in some vaccinated patients, NACI said in justifying its changed advice. According to Canadian national broadcaster CBC, however, the drug has not been widely used in the under-55 age group so far. "Additional information is currently being gathered to characterize more accurately the rate of VIPIT," the NACI statement said.
In mid-March, vaccinations against COVID-19 with AstraZeneca's drug were also suspended for several days in Germany and several other European nations as a precautionary measure.
After a new examination, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) declared that the vaccine was safe, but an extra warning about possible rare cases of blood clots - or thromboses - in veins in the brain would be added to the warnings, the EMA said.
AstraZeneca plays an important role in the EU vaccination strategy because the drug does not need to be refrigerated as much as others do. Despite the changed advice for the AstraZeneca shot, Canada is still expected to receive enough supplies to administer two doses of vaccines against COVID-19 by the autumn of this year, according to the NACI.