Denmark awaits own studies before final decision on AstraZeneca vaccine

The Danish Health Authority will await the results of the country’s own studies on rare cases of blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine before making a final decision on whether to resume its use.

Denmark awaits own studies before final decision on AstraZeneca vaccine
The director of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The authority confirmed it is yet to finalise a decision after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Wednesday announced it had come to the conclusion that the unusual blood clots suffered by numerous people around Europe should be considered as rare side effects of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, but that overall the benefits of the jab outweigh the risk.

The director of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, said he back the ongoing position taken by Denmark to pause use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

READ ALSO: What does Denmark’s continued AstraZeneca pause mean for Covid-19 vaccination programme?

“EMA’s conclusion shows it was important to investigate the possible connection.

“It confirms for us that we have shown reasonable caution in Denmark by pausing the vaccine while the vaccine is investigated,” Brostrøm said in a statement.

“We are awaiting the Danish results and also expect to come forward with an announcement next week based on the knowledge we have acquired,” he added.

While millions of doses of the vaccine developed with Oxford University have been administered, small numbers of people have developed deadly blood clots, which prompted Denmark and other countries, including the European Union’s three largest nations – Germany, France and Italy – to temporarily suspend injections.

In March the EMA said the vaccine was “safe and effective” in protecting people against Covid-19 but that it couldn’t rule out a link to blood clots, and that more investigations were needed.

On Wednesday the EMA said the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be used for all age groups but that people should be told of the possible rare side effects. The announcement came as the UK’s own drugs regulator said the AZ vaccine should now only be given to over 30s.

The EMA said it was “reminding healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination.”

Denmark initially paused use of the vaccine on March 11th before extending its suspension by three weeks from March 25th.

The Danish Health Authority expects to announce a final decision as planned next week.

Just under 150,000 people in Denmark have received the AstraZeneca inoculation, according to official figures.

Brostrøm said that any risk of blood clots for those who have already received the company’s vaccine in Denmark has probably now disappeared.

“We can see that the risk of serious side effects in connection with the vaccination is expected to be greatest within the first 7-10 days, is quite small after 14 days and completely gone after 21 days,” he said.

“We can also see that there do not appear to be any later cases of serious blood clots,” he added.

“It is therefore our assessment that persons in Denmark whom have been vaccinated with the vaccine from AstraZeneca no longer need to be concerned about getting these rare side effects,” he said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”