Ireland should suspend Oxford-AstraZeneca jab over clotting concerns, health chief says

14 March 2021, 09:36 | Updated: 14 March 2021, 10:19

Ireland's deputy CMO said the AstraZeneca vaccine should be temporarily suspended
Ireland's deputy CMO said the AstraZeneca vaccine should be temporarily suspended. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Ireland should be temporarily suspended over clotting concerns, the country's deputy chief medical officer has said.

Dr Ronan Glynn's warning comes after serious blood clotting was recorded following inoculations against coronavirus in Norway.

The health chief said: "This recommendation has been made following a report from the Norwegian Medicines Agency of four new reports of serious blood clotting events in adults after vaccination with Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca.

"It has not been concluded that there is any link between the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca and these cases.

"However, acting on the precautionary principle, and pending receipt of further information, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended the temporary deferral of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca vaccination programme in Ireland."

The Irish authorities have been pressing pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to speed up its jab supplies to the Republic.

Read more: Denmark suspends AstraZeneca rollout after blood clot reports

Read more: Italy blocks Astrazeneca shipment to Australia amid shortages

South Africa suspends Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

Several other European countries temporarily suspended AstraZeneca jabs following reports of people suffering blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported one person in Austria was diagnosed with blood clots and died 10 days after vaccination, but it stressed there is "currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions".

Another person was admitted to hospital in Austria with pulmonary embolism (blockage in arteries in the lungs) after being vaccinated, while one death involving a blood clot was reported in Denmark.

A 50-year-old man is also thought to have died in Italy from deep vein thrombosis, while there has been an unconfirmed report of another death in Italy.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland have said they are temporarily halting all AstraZeneca vaccinations to investigate the reports.

Read more: Germany U-turns and formally approves AstraZeneca jab for over-65s

Read more: France lifts restrictions on AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s

Why AstraZeneca vaccine will be a "game-changer"

Italy also followed Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in banning jabs from one particular batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccines, which was sent to 17 countries, after reports of a death.

Ireland's governing Coalition has been under fire over the speed of its vaccination response.

Around 600,000 doses of vaccine - across all manufacturers - have so far been delivered, which includes the most elderly, those in nursing homes and healthcare workers.

AstraZeneca was approved for use early in the UK; Northern Ireland has made proportionately faster progress than the Republic in reaching the most vulnerable.

Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin held "positive" discussions with AstraZeneca chief executive officer Pascal Soriot on Friday evening.

He has expressed frustration at the failure of the company to meet delivery schedules for inoculations.

Ireland's Minister of State for Mental Health and Older people has said Ireland "is still on track" to have all over-70s vaccinated by mid-May with the supplies they have received to date, despite disruption from AstraZeneca.