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'No indication' AstraZeneca COVID vaccine led to Austria death, says EMA

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A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to a patient in Rome, Italy on March 10, 2021.
A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to a patient in Rome, Italy on March 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Wednesday that there is currently no evidence to link the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to illnesses developed by two people in Austria who had been inoculated.

Austrian health authorities suspended the use of a batch of AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday after a 49-year old woman died as a result of multiple thromboses — formation of blood clots within blood vessels — 10 days after being administered the jab. A 35-year-old was also hospitalised for a pulmonary embolism after receiving a vaccine from the same batch.

Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia also suspended the use of the batch.

The EMA said in a statement on Wednesday that a preliminary probe showed that "there is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine".

"Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated," it added.

According to the regulator, the batch contained 1 million doses which were delivered to 17 EU countries including Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden.

"Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated," the EMA stated.

"The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population. As of 9 March 2021, 22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the 3 million people vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area," it went on.

The AstraZeneca jab is one of three currently approved for use across the EU' 27 member states alongside the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The EMA is expected to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Thursday.