Estonia halts usage of vaccine batch to conduct investigation

Mari-Anne Härma
Mari-Anne Härma

Similarly to Austria, Estonia has stopped using one batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine while a death that may potentially be related to the vaccine is investigated in Austria.

Austrian authorities announced on Sunday (March 7) that they have stopped using one batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure until the cases have been fully investigated.

In Austria, it has been reported that a 49-year-old woman died of a blood clot, while another woman, aged 35, who is now recovering, had a pulmonary embolism, news agency Reuters wrote on Monday (March 8). "Currently there is no proof of a connection between the cases and the vaccine," the Austrian Health Board said.

The Estonian Health Board's (Terviseamet) deputy-chief, Mari-Anne Härma said on Wednesday if an investigation is taking place its commonplace to stop using batches of vaccines.

"It is nothing out-of-the-ordinary," she said. "Since it is not possible to say if the embolism is related to the vaccine, or to another treatment method, then as the investigation is undergoing, a decision is being made that all vaccinated people will be informed, and the usage of the vaccine stopped."

Information reached the Health Board from the State Medicines Agency (Raviamet) on Monday that one batch of the vaccine should not be used. Following this, all administrators of the vaccine across Estonia were contacted, Härma said.

"We gathered information on how many doses of this vaccine are still in stock. Most had used it up already, as the pace has been very fast. But while the investigation is undergoing, the vaccines in this particular batch are waiting on a decision whether they can be reused or if they'll be discarded," Härma said.

Last week in Estonia it was reported that a 31-year-old male rescue worker had died 10 days after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is not yet known if the vaccine played any part in his death and is still being investigated by the State Agency of Medicines.

"We know that this case was not related to the injection from the Austrian batch. A link certainly cannot be drawn here," Härma emphasized, adding that the agency will announce the results at the end of the investigation.

Lithuania's national broadcaster LRT reported on Wednesday that the same batch has been suspended by the health authorities.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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