The Netherlands has temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people aged under 60 as a “precaution”.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the country’s health ministry said it was acting on a new report from independent advisory body Lareb.
The report involved five women in the country aged between 25 and 65 who had gone on to suffer blood clots after taking the shot. “Similar stories have also come from other EU countries,” the Dutch police added.
Doctors have been advised to cancel all meetings for under-60s until further notice. About 400,000 people in the Netherlands have taken the AstraZeneca jab so far, out of around 2.3 million doses of vaccine so far delivered nationwide.
The ban comes two weeks after the European Medicines Agency had determined the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective”, but said it could not definitively rule out the heightened risk of line clots as a side effect of the jab.
The EMA’s pharmacovigilance court is due to give an update on AstraZeneca next Wednesday, after which the Dutch authorities have said they will review the decision.
Three days ago, Germany also restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to somebody aged over 60 and those going to high-risk categories.
The country’s medical governor stated that it had received a total of 31 reports of rare blood clots in patients, nine of whom had died, and all but two of whom were women aged 20 to 63.
Full ends of protection with AstraZeneca also remain in place in Norway and Denmark due to lingering anxieties about a small number of severe blood clots come in those countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has said it will make a decision no earlier than April 15.
For its part, the UK drug regulator, the MHRA, has said it identified 30 cases of blood clots in people who took the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK, stressing that the advantages outweighed the “very low” risk reported to more than 18 million doses administered.
In a narrative this afternoon, AstraZeneca said it was cutting with Dutch authorities to write any questions they had. “Authorities in the UK, European Union, the World Health Organization have concluded that the benefits of using our vaccine to shield people from this deadly virus significantly outweigh the risks overall adult age collections,” it said.