POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Lux to continue using AstraZeneca jab following EMA advice



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Luxembourg will continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine, following advice by the EMA that benefits outweigh possible risks. Photo: Romain Gamba 

Luxembourg will continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine following a new assessment published by the European Medicines Agency on Wednesday, but is also warning patients to immediately contact a doctor should they show symptoms indicative of a blood clot. 

The EMA on 7 April said that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria,” the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

The agency confirmed no specific risk factors although most cases have been confirmed in women under 60. The EMA analysed 86 blood clot cases, 18 of which were fatal, out of more than 25m people having received the vaccine.

“The reported combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is very rare, and the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects,” the EMA said in a statement.

The Luxembourg government late on Wednesday--after an extraordinary meeting of EU health ministers--said it would continue using Vaxzevria without any specific recommendation regarding the age or sex of the recipient.

The UK, for example, decided to offer an alternative to under-30s because of the clot risk.

However, the health ministry also said patients should immediately contact a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms within two weeks of receiving the jab, indicative of a clotting issue:

  • shortness of breath,
  • chest pain,
  • swelling in your leg,
  • persistent abdominal pain,
  • neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision,
  • tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection.

“Our objective remains to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible, based on solid scientific evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of available vaccines,” Romain Schneider (LSAP) said during the meeting, replacing health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP), who is on sick leave until mid-April.

Vaxzevria is one of four vaccines authorised for use in the EU, the others including Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the second-most administered jab in the grand duchy. By the week of 26 April, Luxembourg expects to have received 35,207 doses of the jab, behind 76,440 by Pfizer/Biontech.

The first delivery of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine--2,400 doses--is scheduled for the week of 12 April. The J&J vaccine differs from the others in that it requires only one jab.

The EMA has said it would continue monitoring the safety and effectiveness of Vexzevria and all other vaccines authorised.