Thailand delays AstraZeneca COVID vaccine rollout over blood clot fears

Thailand pushed back its rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine Friday over concerns about people who received the shot developing blood clots.

The move came after more than half a dozen European nations stopped using some or all of their AstraZeneca doses while officials investigated the cases, which have not been definitively linked to the British drugmaker’s vaccine.

Thailand was supposed to start its AstraZeneca vaccination drive Friday by jabbing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet officials.

But Thai officials delayed the vaccine campaign to wait for the results of a safety investigation in Europe, where at least two people who took AstraZeneca’s vaccine developed fatal blood clots.

“AstraZeneca’s vaccine is of good quality and efficacy,” the Thai Ministry of Public Health said in a news release, according to a translation.

A Thai nurse stands next to a board showing data from the national vaccination program against COVID-19 after reports the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged side effects came out.

If the blood clots turn out to be unrelated to AstraZeneca’s jab, the ministry added, “it will strengthen the confidence that the vaccines to be injected to the public are safe.”

Thailand received 117,300 imported doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week. The country will eventually have a supply of 61 million doses, many of which will be locally produced by a company owned by Thailand’s king.

The nation of about 70 million is the first Asian country to press pause on AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended their use of the shot Thursday after Danish officials reported “severe cases” of blood clots in vaccinated people, one of which was related to a death.

Three cases of blood clots in Austria — including one death — prompted that country along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg to stop using doses from a single batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. And Italy halted the use of a separate batch of the shot after two vaccinated men died in Sicily.

The European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug regulator, has said there’s no indication AstraZeneca’s vaccine caused the blood clots and that the jab’s benefits outweigh its risks.

An event to vaccinate Thai officials was canceled on March 12 in Bangkok after reports of bad side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine were released.

AstraZeneca noted Thursday that the vaccine’s safety has been “extensively studied” in clinical trials and peer-reviewed data have confirmed the shot is “generally well tolerated.”

AstraZeneca’s US listed shares were down about 0.3 percent in premarket trading Friday at $48.51 as of 8:11 a.m.

With Post wires

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