Several European countries suspended their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the Covid-19 virus recently. The suspension, which has since been lifted, was a cautionary measure, given reports of blood clots and abnormal bleeding from some who have received the shot.
AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish biotech firm headquartered in Cambridge, England. It teamed with Oxford University in the development of the vaccine, AZD1222, which is not yet in use in the United States but has been a workhorse of the anti-pandemic efforts in much of the world.
Once reports of clotting emerged, a statement by the World Health Organization, issued on March 17, sought to be reassuring. It said: “In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place.”
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On March 20, researchers at a German teaching hospital announced that they have discovered the cause of the link and how a targeted treatment can be used, using a common medication, to protect the small number of patients who experience this complication. Vaccinations have resumed.