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20 Apr, 2021 14:35

Sweden to offer under-65s alternative to AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab amid concerns about side effect risks

Sweden to offer under-65s alternative to AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab amid concerns about side effect risks

The Swedish health authority has confirmed that it will continue to pause the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for under-65s amid concerns about the risk of blood clots.

People in Sweden under the age of 65 who have only received the first dose of AstraZeneca’s ‘Vaxzevria’ vaccine will be offered an alternative jab for their second, as the country continues to restrict its use after reports of serious blood clots among a small number of recipients.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the health authority said the existing recommendation to only give over-65s the AstraZeneca vaccine “remains for the time being,” adding that they have enough supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jab to inoculate everyone else. 

“In view of the very rare but serious side effect reported after vaccination with Vaxzevria, the Swedish Public Health Agency considers that the vaccine can so far not be generally recommended,” the statement laid out.

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The decision comes despite the Swedish body consulting the European Medicines Agency (EMA), accepting that the benefit of the vaccine continues to outweigh any risks from side effects and acknowledging that the jab is effective at warding off Covid-19.

The announcement was made a day after reports emerged in Swedish media of some regions being forced to throw away wasted AstraZeneca doses after people refused to receive them due to their safety concerns about the vaccine.

Sweden’s vaccine rollout is progressing, avoiding the delays that have hampered other parts of Europe, with the nation of over 10 million having administered around 2.1 million doses of a Covid-19 jab.

The Scandinavian state’s ability to vaccinate more people has been, in part, due to its decision to differentiate itself from EU and vaccine-maker guidelines by extending the time between the first and second doses from 21 days to six weeks.

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