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Austria suspends Astra-Zeneca vaccine after one person died and another fell ill after taking jabs

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Austria has suspended vaccinations with a batch of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus jabs as a precaution following the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, dailymailonline reports on Sunday.

The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) said a 49-year-old woman died as a result of severe coagulation disorders.

It also confirmed another 35-year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism and is now recovering.

 

The agency said it had received two reports ‘in a temporal connection’ with a vaccine from the same batch in the district clinic of Zwettl, Lower Austria.

Currently, there is no evidence of a causal relationship with the vaccination,’ BASG said. 

Swiss newspaper Niederoesterreichische Nachrichten as well as broadcaster ORF and the APA news agency reported that the women were both nurses who worked at the Zwettl clinic.

BASG said blood clotting was not among the known side effects of the vaccine and confirmed it was pursuing its investigation vigorously to completely rule out any possible link.

As a precautionary measure, the remaining stocks of the affected vaccine batch are no longer being issued or vaccinated,’ it added.

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It is not clear which factory the batch of vaccines came from or how big the batch was.

The vaccine company said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support the investigation.

It noted the vaccine had been approved by the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization based on a global clinical program involving 23,000 participants.

‘All of these evaluations have concluded that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective,’ the company said.

European Union regulators on Jan. 30 approved the product, saying it was effective and safe to use. 

Adverse reactions seen in trials were short-lived for the most part and blood clotting issues were not reported.

The suspension comes amid the EU’s ongoing row with AstraZeneca following Covid vaccine bungling.

In January, AstraZeneca slashed its first-quarter supplies to the EU from 90 million to 40 million doses. 

The company later told the EU it was also likely to miss its target for the second quarter by 50 per cent. 

The fallout prompted Brussels to institute an ‘export transparency mechanism’, which forces vaccine manufacturers to ask for permission from national governments before they can ship supplies outside of the EU.

Despite Eurocrats initially insisting the mechanism would not be used to block vaccine shipments, last Thursday Italy halted the export of 250,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs destined for Australia. 

French health minister Olivier Veran suggested on Friday that France ‘could do the same’. 

The move raised eyebrows Down Under, as Australia’s finance minister Simon Birmingham said it is ‘a reminder of the desperation that exists in other parts of the world, compared with the very good position we found ourselves in here’.

‘We are obviously disappointed and frustrated by this decision,’ he added.

Australia is relying on vaccine imports to get its jab drive up and running, before domestically-produced doses become available.

Matthew Lesh, head of research at Australia’s conservative Adam Smith Institute, also hit out – branding the EU a ‘bully’ and calling the move ‘a very clear demonstration of closed, self-interested and nationalistic behaviour [that] the world should not tolerate.’

Boris Johnson’s spokesman added: ‘We would expect the EU to continue to stand by its commitments.’

According to Australian media, Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the European Commission to review the Italian decision.

Italy’s prime minister has urged the EU to ‘suffocate’ vaccine makers who fail to deliver on their contractual obligations amid a row over supplies from AstraZeneca.

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