Luxembourg to restart using AstraZeneca vaccine
Luxembourg will resume injecting people with AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday after the European Medicines Agency on Thursday deemed it safe for continued use.
The Grand Duchy on Monday joined a host of European countries in temporarily suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports that a handful of recipients developed life-threatening blood clots. The link between the two has not been proven.
But following a review of the vaccine, the EMA repeated on Thursday that it is a “safe and effective vaccine, and the benefits outweigh any possible risks”.
Luxembourg will restore AstraZeneca in its vaccination campaign, the health ministry said on Thursday.
“The jab is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots,” EMA chief Emer Cooke said at a press conference. “[But] we cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine.”
The EMA plans to investigate further the rare cases of people who developed blood clots and will add it to the list of possible side effects as a rare possibility. Such events have been extremely rare among some 20 million people vaccinated so far, said Dr. Sabine Strauss, chairwoman of the agency's vaccine safety committee.
Luxembourg will also closely monitor people who have been vaccinated, the health ministry said.
The Grand Duchy has been criticised for one of Europe's slowest vaccine roll-outs. The country has enough vaccine doses to inoculate 123,379 people by the end of April this year, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
But reintroducing AstraZeneca back into its vaccine strategy might not do much to speed up Luxembourg’s immunisation drive, with the country set to see a drastic drop in doses from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm.
Only 1,500 doses are set to arrive next week rather than the 12,000 originally planned, the Health Ministry told Luxembourg Times on Monday. Luxembourg this week received just 2,400 doses of the vaccine instead of an anticipated 5,000, officials said.
Luxembourg vaccinated 40% more people in the second week of March compared to the week before, yet despite the improvement the pandemic is showing no signs of letting up.
The health ministry reported 266 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Infections in schools increased last week to 337, compared to 304 the week earlier. None of those cases involved chains of infections among students or teachers, with the majority of cases being isolated to a single pupil, the health ministry said.