Paulette Lenert: Luxembourg has stopped giving out doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Luxembourg has stopped giving out doses of a batch of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca pending further testing by European medical experts, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said on Thursday.

The decision came after Denmark and other European countries suspended the vaccine after reports that four patients in Austria were diagnosed with dangerous blood clotting conditions.

Luxembourg had not given out any injections from the batch of 4,800 doses of the vaccine, a source close to the health ministry said. The overall size of the batch was one million doses.

Luxembourg along with Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had suspended use of the AstraZeneca batch that had been distributed to 17 EU countries on Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency said.

Austria, which also suspended using the vaccine, had reported that one person died 10 days after vaccination after developing blood clots within blood vessels, the EMA said. Another was hospitalised with blockages of the arteries in the lungs but recovered. At least two other people who were treated with the suspended batch of vaccine also developed blood clots, the agency said.

“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” the EMA said.

The 22 cases of blood clots reported among the three million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca product across Europe “is no higher than that seen in the general population”, the agency said.

Denmark’s health minister tweeted on Thursday that health authorities there also suspended vaccinations with AstraZeneca as a precaution.

Slow pace

The suspension threatens to further slow the glacial pace of administering vaccines to Luxembourg’s population of 626,000 as well as the cross-border foreign workers on which the country’s economy depends.

The AstraZeneca product made up more than half of the vaccine doses delivered to Luxembourg last week. It was expected to make up 38% of the more than 75,000 doses projected to arrive by the end of March, trailing only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to health ministry data. Drug-maker Moderna, which produces the third vaccine now being used in Luxembourg, was expected to deliver only 7,000 doses through the end of March.