Denmark has decided to entirely cease administering the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health authority confirmed.
“Based on the scientific findings, our overall assessment is there is a real risk of severe side effects associated with using the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. We have, therefore, decided to remove the vaccine from our vaccination program,” Xinhua news agency quoted Soren Brostrom, director general of the Danish Health Authority, as saying to the media on Wednesday.
In a statement, the authority also claimed that the pandemic was “currently under control” in Denmark, adding that this had contributed to the decision.
Denmark first suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 11, citing “very rare but severe side effects” discovered during the jab’s safety monitoring.
Denmark’s decision on Wednesday came in the wake of the European Medical Agency’s (EMA) recent verdict that “the benefits of using the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive it”.
The Danish Health Authority agrees with the EMA’s general findings, Brostrom said, adding that “in the midst of an epidemic, it has been a difficult decision to continue our vaccination program without an effective and readily available vaccine against Covid-19”.
However, the authority referred to further comments by the EMA that the “use of the vaccine during vaccination campaigns at the national level should also consider the pandemic situation and vaccine availability in each individual country”.
“We are basically in agreement with the EMA’s assessment regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine. That is why it is important to emphasize that it is still an approved vaccine,” said Brostrom.
“But if Denmark were in a completely different situation and in the midst of a violent third outbreak and if we had not reached such an advanced point in our rollout of the vaccines, then I would not hesitate to use the vaccine, even if there were rare but severe complications associated with using it.”
According to the Statens Serum Institut’s (SSI) updated overview, 149,884 people in Denmark have received at least one shot and 596 both shots of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.
“Those who have received the first injection with AstraZeneca will later receive an invitation to vaccination with another vaccine,” the health authority said.
Meanwhile, Denmark continues to administer the vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
In total, 995,672 Danes have received at least one shot of a vaccine, which corresponds to 17 per cent of the population, the SSI said on Wednesday.