After the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency have said that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks, a group of Norwegian health experts conducted a study on the adverse effects. It resolved just the opposite, recommending that its use should be discontinued immediately.
After the first reports of deaths linked to rare thrombi caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine, Norway was one of the countries that suspended its use, pending a local study to investigate its adverse effects.
On Thursday, Norway’s leading public health experts presented a report recommending that its government implement an immediate ban on using the controversial vaccine.
In a press release issued Thursday, the agency announced that after examining the risks of the vaccine together with other government experts, it had resolved that AstraZeneca’s continued use is not recommended.
“Based on this knowledge, we have arrived at a recommendation that the AstraZeneca vaccine is removed from the coronavirus vaccination program in Norway,” Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the National Institute of Public Health, said in the statement.
Bukholm added that “There is now significantly more knowledge about the connection between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare and serious incidents of low platelets, blood clots, and bleeding than when Norway chose to put further use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on pause in March.”
Norway was one of the first countries in a long line to suspend the vaccination campaign in early March after some people who received the AstraZeneca injection were hospitalized with blood clots and low platelet counts. Three cases were fatal, officials said, Euronews reported.
This was followed by several European countries momentarily suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine, also reporting serious adverse effects and the presence of dangerous associated blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), along with the complicity of the WHO, finally reaffirmed the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. However, it warned that it could not rule out the possibility that it might cause rare blood clots reported the journal Science.
Several countries, such as Denmark and Norway, were wary of the EMA and WHO claims and decided to undertake investigations of their own before proceeding with the application to their citizens.
“Overall, we must say that the results show that there is a real and serious side effect signal in the vaccine from AstraZeneca,” said Danish health official Soren Brostrom in a statement. “Based on an overall consideration, we have therefore chosen to continue the vaccination program for all target groups without this vaccine.”
On Wednesday, Denmark became the first country in Europe to completely phase out the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Should the Norwegian government accept the recommendation of its experts, as is expected to happen, Norway would become the second nation after Denmark to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine for good.