Denmark: Expert issues warning after AstraZeneca rollout stopped
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Denmark this week became the first country to stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine altogether, as European officials investigate reports of rare blood clots combined with low platelet counts that have occurred in Europe and Britain. The decision has sparked some debate in Denmark about what to do with the leftover vaccines. Opposition parties argue the authorities should make the shot available to Danes willing to take it.
Speaking to Sky News, Canadian immunologist Sir John Bell said: “Different countries have to do what different countries decide they need to do.
“I looked at the numbers last night, they’ve got 15 percent of their population have had a vaccine now.
“The only vaccine they’ve got available will be the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“If they don’t want to use it, that’s fine but if they get hit by the Kent variant in the way that Germany and France has then they will have a lot of dead people.
“Many, many, many more dead people than they would have had if they’d used the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“They have to make their own decisions but they also have to live with their decisions which may be more difficult as reality sinks in.”
Denmark currently has just over 200,000 vaccines, but is set to receive another 3.5 million from previous agreements, the State Serum Institute told Reuters.
The Danish Health Ministry was not immediately available for comment.
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The WHO, which along with Britain and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) continue to recommend AstraZeneca’s shot on the grounds that the benefits outweigh the risks, has been pushing countries not to hoard vaccines that they are not using.
World Bank President David Malpass also called on countries on Thursday to contribute their “excess” doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.
The lion’s share of vaccines distributed globally, so far, have gone to wealthier nations.
“I understand that the ministry of foreign affairs of Denmark is ready to, or looking already into options, for sharing AstraZeneca vaccines with poorer countries,” WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge told reporters.
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Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said her country would gladly take the shots: “We still have less vaccines than people willing to be vaccinated.
“Therefore, Lithuania has expressed readiness to take as many doses of Astra Zeneca, as Denmark is ready to share.”
WHO and EMA have said every nation should make decisions about their vaccination programs based on their rates of vaccination, infection and hospitalisation.
Danish Health Authority director Soren Brostrom said on Wednesday his country had come far in inoculating the elderly population most at risk of contracting a serious form of COVID-19, and that younger groups were at lower risk of complications from the disease. That had to be weighed against the possible vaccine side effects, he said.
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