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Coronavirus: Vaccine ban weighs on AstraZeneca shares amid clotting fears

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LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3-min read
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A nurse holds a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus disease at an infectious diseases hospital in Tbilisi on March 15, 2021. (Photo by Vano SHLAMOV / AFP) (Photo by VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images)
In a statement, AstraZeneca said there was no evidence of an increased risk of clotting due to the vaccine. Photo: VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images

Shares in pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZN.L) were tested on Monday after several EU countries, including Germany, France and the Republic of Ireland, suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine amid blood clotting concerns.

On Monday afternoon, the German government said it would temporarily halt the use of the vaccine as a precaution.

The country's health minister said the decision was taken on the advice of Germany’s national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which called for further investigation into seven reported cases of clots in the brains of people who had been vaccinated.

“Today’s decision is a purely precautionary measure,” Jens Spahn said.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the move on Sunday after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred following inoculations.

However, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said evidence "does not suggest" the jab causes clots, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was no link between the jab and an increased risk of developing a clot, and no reason to stop using it.

The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Denmark and Norway are also among the countries that have paused its use, as well as Thailand, Iceland and Congo.

On Monday, the Dutch government said the move will last until at least 29 March.

AstraZeneca shares fell slightly on Monday on the back of the news. Chart: Yahoo Finance.
AstraZeneca shares fell slightly on Monday on the back of the news. Chart: Yahoo Finance.

“We can't allow any doubts about the vaccine,” Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge said. “We have to make sure everything is right, so it is wise to pause for now.”

Italy, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania have also stopped using certain batches as a precaution after reports that a 50-year-old man had died in Italy after developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Around 5 million Europeans have already received the AstraZeneca jab.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said there was no evidence of an increased risk of clotting due to the vaccine.

The company said that across the EU and the United Kingdom there had been 15 events of deep-vein thrombosis and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among more than 17 million people vaccinated.

READ MORE: European Union turns to US for Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

Ann Taylor, the firm's chief medical officer, said on Monday: “Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.”

She added: "The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety."

It comes as the European Union was hit with another roadblock in its vaccination programme, after the pharmaceutical firm announced a shortfall in its vaccines on Saturday.

"AstraZeneca is disappointed to announce a shortfall in planned COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the European Union... despite working tirelessly to accelerate supply," it said.

WATCH: COVID vaccines: Ireland and Netherlands latest countries to suspend AstraZeneneca jabs