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Vac-log Suspension of Astra Zeneca Covid vaccine roll-out is a 'precautionary measure'

In the European economic area, there have been five million doses used and there have been overall thirty clot events"

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A nurse preparing a coronavirus vaccine (PA)

A nurse preparing a coronavirus vaccine (PA)

A nurse preparing a coronavirus vaccine (PA)

The risk of blood clotting caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine is low, a representative from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee has said.  

Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) said that while vaccine safety is “paramount” and should be monitored closely, the decision to pause AstraZeneca vaccinations in Ireland is simply a precautionary measure.

Professor Butler explained that the temporary suspension of the vaccine is necessary until further information is sought.

Around 30,000 healthcare workers and vulnerable people were due to receive their vaccines this week but have now had their appointments deferred following the decision to temporarily suspend the AstraZeneca/Oxford rollout.

Ireland has now joined Thailand, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia on the growing list of countries which have now suspended the use of the vaccine, with the Netherlands also doing so today.

However, Northern Ireland is continuing its use, with the North’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride pictured receiving his first dose this morning.

“The benefit is strongly in favour of people getting this vaccine at this time,” he told reporters.

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Chief medical officer Michael McBride (Peter Morrison/PA)

Chief medical officer Michael McBride (Peter Morrison/PA)

Chief medical officer Michael McBride (Peter Morrison/PA)

Professor Butler said that the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting is weak and is likely that other factors such as age and underlying conditions should be considered in these cases.

Speaking to Claire Byrne today, she said: “The reason Denmark pulled their vaccine campaign was because of a small number of clotting events that they were concerned about.

“In the European economic area, there have been five million doses used and there have been overall thirty clot events.

She told listeners that Ireland has had very few clotting concerns and that we must consider the factors that can also cause clotting.

“There have been some reports of clots. Not serious, I think there have been two reports but in situations where they would be expected in those populations.

“Bear in mind that the populations who have been vaccinated at the moment tend to be our older people or now those who are high risk with other conditions, who may have other reasons for developing clots.

“It is important and we have to pay attention to it and there is a rapid assessment ongoing,” the immunologist continued.

She also stated: “The EMA concluded that the safety profile was in favour of the vaccine and that it should continue to be used.”

This comes after Luke O’Neill, professor in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, said on Newstalk that he was “disappointed” by the decision to suspend the AstraZeneca rollout.

“They are not trusting the science,” he said.

“17 million people have had this vaccine and there is no evidence of any kind that it is causing blood clots.

Professor O’Neill added: “The EMA also said three days ago keep using it because the benefits far outweigh the risks, so, it is just a strange one.”

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