Covid: Denmark pauses AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after reports of severe blood clots - though no link established

  • ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke reports on the latest developments

Denmark has temporarily paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine following "severe cases of blood clots in people" who had received the jab - though no concrete link between the two has yet been established.

ITV News' Science Editor Tom Clarke reported that the pause "was linked to one death in Denmark from a blood clot that is now being investigated by the EMA — the EU’s medicines regulator".

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said evidence had not confirmed the vaccine caused the problems, and said people should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

Søren Brostrøm, director of Denmark's National Board of Health, had earlier said: "There is good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective.

"We and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of possible serious side effects."

The AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs are the two vaccines currently being used in the UK Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Denmark's health authorities stressed: "At present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots."

Dr Phil Bryan, MHRA vaccines safety lead, said: “Vaccine safety is of paramount importance and we continually monitor the safety of vaccines to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks.

“It has not been confirmed that the report of a blood clot, in Denmark, was caused by the Covid-19 vaccine (from) AstraZeneca.

“The Danish authorities’ action to temporarily suspend use of the vaccine is precautionary whilst they investigate.

“Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK.

“Reports of blood clots received so far are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.”

Looking at the latest UK data for side effects from the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Tom Clarke reported "very few cases of blood clots and, remember, we don’t know yet if any of these have anything to do with vaccine".

He continued: "Overall out of 17,723,840 vaccine doses covered by this data, there have been 157,637 'adverse events' most of these really minor and, once investigated, many turn out to not have anything to do with vaccine at all — just coincidence.

"Quick skim through the data, 32 of those adverse events (linked to nearly 18 million vaccinations) are blood clots of some kind. 12 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 12 Pulmonary embolism — a blood clot in the lung — one of which was fatal.

"There have been deaths too: 244 reported that are potentially (emphasis on that) linked to vaccine.

"By the way, that’s one death for every 1000 doses given in a population that at this stage in the vaccination campaign (data is up till end Feb) is quite elderly and frail."

The medicines regulation body, the MHRA, has since released new data on adverse effects and Clarke added: "It includes a few more adverse events that could be described as blood clots including one additional death. But that’s after 3 million more doses of vaccine given compared to last data release. Also remember no certainty at all these events linked to vaccine."

He said: "Essentially, incidence of blood clots seen so far following 11m doses of AZ vaccine no higher than what we would expect to see in unvaccinated people."