Norway on Friday extended a suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine until April 15, with health officials saying they needed more time to investigate a potential link to severe blood clotting.
“It is a difficult but correct decision to extend the pause for the AstraZeneca vaccine. We believe it is necessary to carry out more investigations into these cases,” Geir Bukholm, Director of the Division of Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), said in a statement.
EU drugs regulator EMA last week said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and not linked to a higher risk of blood clots, but could not “rule out definitively” its role in the rare clotting disorder.
The German government, on the other hand, said it would be open to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it had been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“EMA approval – which Sputnik does not yet have – would provide the opportunity to use the vaccine in inoculation campaigns in Europe, and it would then also be worth considering for Germany,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert.
He refused to be drawn over France’s accusation against Moscow of using the jabs as a “propaganda” tool.
Last week, Merkel herself directly referred to Sputnik jabs and said Germany “should use any vaccine that has been approved” by the EMA.