Indonesia has joined the list of countries to delay the administering of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of blood clots among some recipients in Europe and would await a review from the World Health Organization (WHO), its health minister said Monday.
The European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication that the events were caused by the vaccination, a view echoed Friday by the WHO, while AstraZeneca said Sunday its review has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.
“To be conservative, the food and drug agency delayed implementation of AstraZeneca (vaccine) as it awaits confirmation from the WHO,” health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a parliamentary hearing on Monday.
Indonesia received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the COVAX vaccine-alliance scheme this month and is set to receive some 10 million more in the next two months.
Thailand, which became the first country outside of Europe to delay the use of the AstraZeneca shot on Friday, plans to start using the vaccine on Tuesday, officials said, with the prime minister and his cabinet the first to receive it.
The decision will leave Indonesia with just one approved vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, for use in its nationwide vaccination drive.
Its immunization program started in January and aims to reach 181.5 million people within a year.
The Southeast Asian country has been grappling with the worst outbreak in the region, having recorded more than 1.4 million infections and 38,500 deaths.
The Netherlands on Sunday joined a fast-growing list of countries suspending use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of unexpected possible side effects from the injection.
The vaccine will not be used until at least March 29 as a precaution, the Dutch government said in a statement.
Health authorities had scheduled around 290,000 AstraZeneca injections in the coming two weeks.
The move, which follows a similar decision by Ireland earlier in the day, is based on reports from Denmark and Norway of possible serious side effects, the government said.
Three health workers in Norway who had recently received the vaccine were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets, Norwegian health authorities said on Saturday.
No such cases had been found yet in the Netherlands, the Dutch Health ministry said, adding there was no proof yet of a direct link between the vaccine and the reports from Denmark and Norway.
“We can’t allow any doubts about the vaccine,” Dutch Health minister Hugo de Jonge said.
“We have to make sure everything is right, so it is wise to pause for now.”
AstraZeneca said on Sunday a review of safety data of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.
Late last week, the Dutch government said there was no reason to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine, as the EMA said there was no indication it could cause blood clots.
But De Jonge said his decision was informed by new reports, which would now be investigated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Along with Denmark, Norway and Ireland, Iceland has also suspended the use of the vaccine over clotting issues.