Czech Republic swoops for Denmark’s 2.4m unwanted AZ COVID shots

The Czech Republic wants to buy around 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine ditched by Denmark, which has said it will stop using it because of concerns about rare blood clotting side-effects.

Czech deputy prime minister Jan Hamacek said on twitter that he had instructed the country’s ambassador in Denmark to try to buy the unwanted doses.

Hamacek is also going to travel to Moscow to arrange deliveries of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine once it is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The Czech Republic is beginning to get a grip on the pandemic and has seen the numbers of deaths falling over the last three weeks.

However it is still reporting more than 4,000 new infections on average each day, according to latest statistics from Reuters.

Denmark has stopped handing out the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, becoming the first European country to do so because of concerns about very rare blood clotting side-effects.

The move follows advice from the European Medicines Agency last week that announced a possible link with blood clots, although the regulator said that the risk of dying of COVID-19 was far higher.

Several European countries had temporarily suspended the jab but most have reinstated it following the EMA’s advice, albeit with restrictions on its use in younger people where the risk of the blood clots seems to be higher.

Danish officials said that all 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be withdrawn until further notice.

They said studies had shown a higher than expected frequency of blood clots following doses, affecting about one in 40,000 people.

Director general Sorn Brostrom said the decision to suspend the vaccine was difficult but noted that there were other vaccines available and that the epidemic was under control in the country.

He said: “The upcoming target groups for vaccination are less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19.

“We must weigh this against the fact that we now have a known risk of severe adverse effects from vaccination with AstraZeneca, even if the risk in absolute terms is slight,” Brostrom said in a press conference.

Around a million people in Denmark have been vaccinated and around 150,000 of them have received the AstraZeneca jab.

France said following the Danish announcement that it views the AZ vaccine as an “essential tool”, with those aged over 55 the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Feature image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories/NIH

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