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AstraZeneca vaccine not to blame for Austria death, says EU medicines agency

Austria announced it would stop using doses from an AstraZenca batch after the 49-year-old nurse died.

Image: DPA/PA Images

EUROPE’S MEDICINES WATCHDOG has said a preliminary probe showed that a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines used in Austria was likely not to blame for the death of a nurse who received a jab.

Austria announced on Monday it would stop using doses from the batch, made by the British-Swedish firm with Oxford University, after the 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving a jab. 

A second woman was also hospitalised after developing a pulmonary embolism and was now recovering, the European Medicines Agency said.

Two other reports of “thromboembolic event cases had been received for this batch,” the Amsterdam-based EMA said.

However “there is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” it said in a statement.

Four other EU countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg – have also suspended vaccinations from this batch.

The batch consisting of one million jabs was sent to 17 European countries – including Ireland. 

“Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated,” the EMA said.

“The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population.

“As of 9 March 2021, 22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the 3 million people vaccinated with Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area.”

Since inoculation campaigns began, isolated cases have been reported in some countries of people dying shortly after receiving a vaccine. None have been linked to the vaccine.

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There have so far been no reports of deaths where a Covid-19 vaccine is believed to have been a contributory factor, either in Ireland or anywhere across the European Union.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the regulatory body for medicines in Ireland, confirmed there have been no reports of deaths for which there were concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to the latest HPRA report, it has received 17 reports describing elderly patients who passed away following vaccination, but that this does not mean the vaccine caused the deaths. 

It said that in all cases, the patients concerned had underlying conditions and/or concurrent illness, with a small number having tested positive for Covid-19.

“All reports are being carefully reviewed. However, it can be expected that fatalities due to progression of underlying disease or natural causes will continue to occur, including following vaccination. This does not mean that the vaccine caused the deaths,” the HPRA report states. 

- With reporting from AFP

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Adam Daly

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