Published: 17th March 2021
What The FAQ: Why is the AstraZeneca vaccine temporarily suspended in some countries? Everything you need to know
Many European countries have temporarily stopped administering the vaccine while the EMA investigates the case
When reports started to come out about the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca, many countries in Europe paused its usage in their hospitals. European Medicines Agency (EMA) head Emer Cooke has said that the body stood by its decision to approve the vaccine. Here, we look at what the origin of the vaccine and why it is in the news.
What is AstraZeneca?
University of Oxford researchers built the vaccine using a kind of virus, called an adenovirus, that typically causes colds in chimpanzees. They genetically altered the virus so that it carried a gene for a coronavirus protein, which would theoretically train a person’s immune system to recognize the real coronavirus.Scientists have been testing adenovirus-based vaccines for decades, but it wasn’t until July of this year that the first one was licensed, when Johnson and Johnson got approval from European regulators for an Ebola vaccine.
Which countries have temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine?
France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Latvia have temporarily paused the use of the vaccine.
Why is the EMA investigating?
A person was diagnosed with multiple thrombosis (formation of clots within blood vessels) and died 10 days after vaccination. Another person had a pulmonary embolismafter being vaccinated, and is now recovering. As of March 9, two other thromboembolic cases have been reported, the EMA found. Overall, 22 cases of thromboembolic events have been reported.
What has AstraZeneca said?
AstraZeneca said it was holding careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and UK and it has shown that the vaccine has shown “no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia” in any defined “age group, gender, batch or in any particular country."