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COVID19: Cyprus holds back suspect AstraZeneca batch

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Cyprus has held back a batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines which Austria put on ice after the death of a woman from blood clots and hospitalisation of a second person days after being vaccinated.

The country has joined Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Latvia in suspending the use of one batch following a handful of dangerous blood clotting conditions in people who recently had the jab.

The EU said there is currently no evidence that the vaccine caused the conditions.

Cyprus has received doses from the batch in question, deputy director of the pharmaceutical services Elena Panayiotopoulou told the Financial Mirror.

“There is nothing to worry about,” she said.

“Indications show this batch is not problematic, but we have put the consignment on hold as a precaution, pending final confirmation from EMA’s safety committee PRAC (European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee),” said Panayiotopoulou.

She told the Financial Mirror that none of the doses from the batch had been used, while the consignment is relatively small as it contains one million doses sent out to 17 countries.

Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden batch numbered ABV 5300 of AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

In Austria, a 49-year-old nurse in Zwettl, a town northwest of Vienna, died of multiple thromboses – forming blood clots within blood vessels – 10 days after receiving the vaccine.

A second nurse, 35, was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism – where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs – she is recovering.

This week, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients that had received a dose from the same batch.

Panayiotopoulou said that both cases were connected with a hospital in Zwettl but are in line with incidents in the general population.

“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.”

Countries suspended this batch is a precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing.

“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” said a Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

“EMA’s safety committee PRAC is reviewing this issue; it is investigating the cases reported with the batch as well as all other cases of thromboembolic events and other conditions related to blood clots, reported post-vaccination,” it added.

AstraZeneca said all batches are subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there have been “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine”.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is the cornerstone of Cyprus’ vaccination program, as it has ordered 1.2 million doses.

European Union regulators approved AstraZeneca’s jab at the end of January, saying it was effective and safe to use for all ages above 18.

The EMA said as of Tuesday; there had been 22 reports of blood clotting conditions among the three million people to receive the AstraZeneca jab in the European Economic Area.