• Sunday, Dec 05, 2021
  • Last Update : 08:18 pm

Austria suspends AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine batch after death

  • Published at 07:50 pm March 7th, 2021
AstraZeneca
File photo: AstraZeneca's logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020 Reuters

At least 2,588,597 people have died of coronavirus since the outbreak began in December 2019, an AFP tally showed

Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, a health agency said on Sunday.

"The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl" in Lower Austria province, it said.

One 49-year-old woman died as a result of severe coagulation disorders, while a 35-year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism and is recovering, it said. A pulmonary embolism is an acute lung disease caused by a dislodged blood clot.

"Currently there is no evidence of a causal relationship with the vaccination," BASG said.

Austrian newspaper Niederoesterreichische Nachrichten as well as broadcaster ORF and the APA news agency reported that the women were both nurses who worked at the Zwettl clinic.

BASG said blood clotting was not among the known side effects of the vaccine. It was pursuing its investigation vigorously to completely rule out any possible link.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said: "There have been no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine," adding that all batches are subject to strict and rigorous quality controls.

Adverse reactions seen in trials were short-lived for the most part and blood clotting issues were not reported.

First vaccines for Ethiopia 

2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrive via the Covax scheme in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, with officials saying inoculations will get under way in the coming days.

Close to 2.6 million dead 

At least 2,588,597 people have died of coronavirus since the outbreak began in December 2019, an AFP tally from official sources at 7pm showed. 

The United States is the worst-affected country with 524,362 deaths, followed by Brazil (264,325), Mexico (190,357), India (157,756) and Britain (124,419).

Hopes for oral Covid drug 

German pharma giant Merck and a US partner report promising results in trials of a drug administered orally to fight Covid-19, saying it helps reduce patients' viral load. 

Pill-based molnupiravir, which it has developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, caused a significant drop in patients' viral load after five days of treatment, Merck says.

Stimulus plan 

The US Senate approves a fiercely debated $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden vows will revive the country's pandemic-stricken economy.

Passed by 50 votes to 49 in a party-line vote, it now heads back to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.

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