Bulgaria, Romania halt AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines after Italy deaths

Foto: INQUAM/Octav Ganea

Bulgaria and Romania have  temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine batch banned in Italy over concerns over its side-effects.

Bulgaria was the latest country to halt AstraZeneca’s shots on Friday after two deaths were reported in Italy.

Bulgaria said it was waiting for the European Medicines Agency to conclude its investigation.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said the suspension would last until the EMA rules that inoculation with the vaccine is not linked to blood clots suffered by some people who recently took the jab.

Romania authorities on Thursday said they were halting use of the vaccine as an act of „extreme precaution” while deaths in Italy are investigated, but are continuing to use other doses from the company.

Some 9,000 people canceled their appointments for AstraZeneca shots after the announcement, and 5,740 filled their slots, the national Covid-19 vaccination committee said on Friday evening.

There are currently 200,000 waiting for AstraZeneca vaccines and the 9,000 who pulled out is 4.5% of those, the council said

Like Bulgaria, the suspension will last until the EMA completes a probe.

Italian health authorities have ordered the withdrawal of a batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following the deaths of two men in Sicily who were recently inoculated, according to news reports.

„This decision was made as a measure of extreme precaution without there being a scientific argument present in Romania to justify it,”  the national committee in charge of the vaccine rollout said in a statement.

Romania received 81,600 doses of AstraZeneca in early February and has used about 77,000 so far.

Health authorities in Denmark, Norway and Iceland also suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following reports of blood clots in some people who were vaccinated. Austria also stopped using one batch pending investigating into a death.

Romania reported more than 5,000 daily new coronavirus cases on both Thursday and Friday, the highest numbers in two months.

More than 1.375 million Romanians have received at least one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca’s vaccines in the country of 19 million, authorities said Friday evening.


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