Experts frustrated by Netherlands’ decision to suspend AstraZeneca
The Dutch government’s decision to once again temporarily halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 has been met with much frustration and confusion among medical experts in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine
On Saturday, the Dutch government announced that the Netherlands was once again temporarily suspending the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all ages. The decision was taken after the government had decided on Friday to halt the use of the vaccine among everyone under the age of 60, which meant only those aged between 60 and 65 were eligible to receive it.
The GGD ultimately cancelled all 700 AstraZeneca appointments to prevent vaccine waste: “Over the coming days, people would visit between 70 and 80 vaccination sites. That means one to five appointments per site per day. Since we get 10, 11 or 12 injections from a bottle, that would lead to waste,” explained a GGD spokesperson.
In the Netherlands, around 400.000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered, and there have been a total of five reports of thrombosis among women between the ages of 26 and 65. One woman died after developing an extensive pulmonary embolism in combination with a reduced number of platelets within 10 days of receiving the jab.
Experts confused by Dutch government’s decision
After the government announced its decision over the weekend, Marion Koopmans, professor of virology at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, took to Twitter in an attempt to put the risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine into perspective. According to Koopmans, someone is more likely to die after being attacked by a dog than they are to develop a blood clot after being vaccinated. In spite of these figures, however, she agreed that it was necessary to investigate any reports of so-called serious adverse events.
Thrombosis expert Saskia Middeldorp was also left frustrated and confused by the government’s recent decision. Speaking at a panel show on Monday night, Middeldorp said no thrombosis experts had been consulted before the decision was made. “I absolutely don't understand the decision,” she said, “It took us by surprise, this decision came like a bolt from the blue." Frits Rosendaal, professor of clinical epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Center, called the decision “shocking,” saying it must be political.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is yet again investigating the vaccine and the thrombosis reports. They are expected to publish their advisory report on Wednesday. Only once the EMA has reached a decision will the Dutch government reevaluate the situation in the Netherlands.