Denmark will extend its suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine until April 15, the Danish Health Authority announced on Thursday, as other European countries are restarting use of the vaccine.
Officials in Denmark want to further investigate whether AstraZeneca vaccine is the cause of an unusual disease picture involving low blood platelets, bleeding and blood clots in unexpected places in the body, the head of the Danish Health Authority, Soren Brostrom, said.
The European Medical Agency, the continent’s top drug regulator, said last week that it had found no sign of the vaccine causing such rare but dangerous problems, and strong evidence that its lifesaving benefits “outweigh the risk of the side effects.”
The agency announced on Thursday that it was convening a group of external medical experts to help assess the safety of the vaccine.
Denmark was the first country to suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, on March 11. It has reported two deaths from brain hemorrhages among people who had received the shot.
Officials acknowledged that continuing the suspension would lead to delays in the vaccination process.
“We are very conscious that a continued hold on vaccination with the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca delays the Danish vaccination program,” Mr. Brostrom said. “However, the vaccines are already in the refrigerator. If we decide to recommence vaccination with the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, we can quickly distribute and use the vaccines.”
The health authorities in Sweden, which last week suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Thursday that the country would resume its use for people over 65.
In other developments around the world:
Schools in Romania will close for four weeks starting next month as the Eastern European country fights to curb its latest wave of Covid-19 cases. Most schools will close from April 2 to May 4, Sorin Cimpeanu, Romania’s education minister, said on Thursday, extending the usual break for Orthodox and Catholic Easter.
Travelers flying to Germany will need to show proof they tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding flights starting on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said on Thursday. Germans rushed to book flights and hotels in Portugal and Spain for Easter and Holy Week holidays after the government took those nations off its “at risk” list that require people to quarantine upon return to Germany.