Some countries are restricting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 while others have pressed ahead with inoculations as investigations into reports of rare, and sometimes severe, blood clots continue.
The European Union’s medicines regulator – the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said the benefits of the shot outweigh its potential risks, but they are monitoring the situation as more cases are reported.
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On March 31, EMA chief Emer Cooke said there was “no evidence” yet that would support restricting the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in any population despite the reports of rare blood clots.
Her comments came after an independent vaccine expert panel in Germany said a day earlier that the AstraZeneca shot should not routinely be given to people under the age of 60 because of a rise in reported cases of unusual blood clots in the days after vaccination.
The German government followed the recommendation and said the shot would be limited for use in people aged 60 and above.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, said earlier in March that its vaccine was 76 percent effective in preventing symptomatic coronavirus infections in a trial held in the United States, and that studies did not indicate higher risks of clotting.
Below are two lists in alphabetical order, the first showing countries that are using the vaccine, albeit some with restrictions by age, and the second showing those that had halted the roll-out of the shot as of March 31.
Several of the countries where the vaccine was being distributed had in the past temporarily barred its use, including EU member states France, Germany and Italy, pending the outcome of an earlier EMA probe that concluded the shot was “safe and effective“.
Vaccine being used
The Therapeutic Goods Administration said on March 31 that a link between the vaccine and clot disorders had not been proven but that it was still investigating the issue as vaccinations continue.
Resumed inoculations from March 19.
Canada continued to use the vaccine, albeit with limits, having paused offering the shot to people aged under 55 on March 29.
Cyprus, which suspended the vaccine on March 15, resumed inoculations on March 19.
The country’s medical regulator approved the resumed use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on March 19, but said it should only be given to people aged 55 and older.
Resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine from March 29, but will only give it to people aged 65 and over.
Has limited the use of the vaccine after a nurse died of anaphylactic shock, and vaccinations will continue only in full-fledged medical centres, news agency TASS reported on March 19.
Germany limited use of the shot to people over 60 years of age and high-priority groups from March 31, following further reports of a rare brain blood disorder.
Resumed use on March 25 after suspending it on March 11 pending investigations into reports that it might be linked to blood clots.
Resumed using the vaccine on March 22 but warned against the use of the vaccine in people with a low blood platelet count.
Resume roll-out of the vaccine for all those aged 18 and over on March 20, after suspending it on March 14.
Resumed using the vaccine on March 19, and Italians who decline to be inoculated with it will be given an alternative later on.
Also said it would restart administering the shots from March 19.
Restarted administering the vaccine on March 19, currently for people over age 65 only.
The health minister said on March 18 that the country would resume using the vaccine that week.
Health Minister Venko Filipce said on March 31 that AstraZeneca shots would be limited to people aged over 60 as a precautionary measure.
President Moon Jae-in received the vaccine on March 23 ahead of an overseas trip, as the country inoculates senior citizens and health workers.
Spain said on March 30 that it would use the vaccine for people aged 55-65, and a day later said it would extend the vaccination to essential workers over 65 years old.
Resumed use of the vaccine on March 25 for people aged 65 and older, its health agency said, but restrictions are in place for Swedes under 65 years old.
Began use on March 15, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha becoming the first to be inoculated, after Thailand delayed rollout the week before.
Vaccine use suspended
Suspended use of one batch of the vaccine on March 7 after the death of one person and the illness of another.
Suspended administration of the vaccine it was scheduled to receive on March 20 as part of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) sharing scheme, the health ministry said.
Prolonged its suspension of the shot by three weeks pending further investigations after its two-week pause ended on March 25. A local survey indicated that one in three Danes would decline to get the shot.
Norway will delay a decision over the use of the vaccine, authorities said on March 26, with a decision expected by April 15.
Temporarily stopped vaccinating people with one batch of the vaccine on March 11.