Denmark drops AstraZeneca vaccine for good, in European first

Soeren Brostroem, Director of the National Board of Health explains why the Vaxzevria (previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca) vaccine is stopped in Denmark during a press briefing in Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 April 2021. [EPA-EFE/Philip Davali]

Denmark announced Tuesday (13 April) it would stop using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine altogether, becoming the first European country to do so over suspected rare but serious side effects.

Despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and European medicines watchdog to continue using the inoculation, “Denmark’s vaccination campaign will go ahead without the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Authority director Soren Brostrom told a press conference.

Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination rollout, after reports of rare but serious cases of blood clots among those that had received the vaccine.

More than a dozen countries followed suit but all but a few have since resumed the use after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) emphasised the benefits of the vaccine and deemed it “safe and effective”.

Denmark had however continued to hold off using the vaccine as it conducted investigations of its own.

In Denmark, two cases of thrombosis, one of which was fatal, were linked to vaccinations after more than 140,000 people received the jab made by the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker.

In the country of 5.8 million inhabitants, eight percent have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and 17 percent have received a first dose.

Since suspending use of the AstraZeneca jab in March, Denmark has continued with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna jabs.

The AstraZeneca suspension delays the country’s ambitious vaccine rollout plans, but the health authority said in a statement that the availability of other vaccines combined with the pandemic being under control at the moment meant the inoculation campaign could continue without it.

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