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Ireland suspends use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

The use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been suspended in the Republic of Ireland.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the move following reports of serious blood clotting events in adults in Norway.

In a tweet, the Irish Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was a “precautionary step”.

The World Health Organisation has said there was no link between the jab and an increased risk of developing a clot.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said it was aware of the suspension in Ireland and was “closely reviewing reports”.

“But given the large number of doses administered, and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause,” a spokesperson said.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation said countries should not stop using the vaccine over fears it causes blood clots as there is no indication this is true.

More than 110,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Ireland, which is about 20% of all doses given to date.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Earlier on Sunday, Ireland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said new information was received from the Norwegian Medicines Agency on Saturday night.

“It has not been concluded that there is any link between the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca and these cases,” he said.

“However, acting on the precautionary principle, and pending receipt of further information, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee has recommended the temporary deferral of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca vaccination programme in Ireland.”

In a statement to RTÉ, AstraZeneca said that an analysis of safety data covering more than 17 million doses of the vaccine administered has shown no evidence of an increased risk of the conditions concerned, and that no trends or patterns were observed in clinical trials.

“In fact, the reported numbers of these types of events for Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the unvaccinated population,” said a spokesperson.

“A careful review of all available safety data including these events is ongoing and AstraZeneca is committed to sharing information without delay.”

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann tweeted that Covid-19 vaccines are administered “under the expert direct of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Last week, after Iceland, Norway and Denmark suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, the MHRA said people should continue to get vaccinated.

“Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK,” said Phil Bryan of the MHRA.

“People should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so.”

The Public Health Agency in NI said it would “closely monitor” the situation.

“From our perspective the vaccine is safe and we’re continuing to use it,” said Dr Stephen Bergin, interim Director of Public Health.

“We’ve had good experience over the last three months now, we’ve had over 600,000 people vaccinated, not all of course with this particular vaccine.”

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