KEY POINTS

  • Austrian officials are now investigating the death of a 49-year-old health care worker
  • The nurse died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
  • Officials have yet to determine if the vaccine is directly linked to the nurse's death

After one person died and another suffered a pulmonary embolism in Austria, officials in the country have suspended inoculations administered from a batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution.

Austrian authorities launched a probe after a 49-year-old woman died due to severe coagulation disorders after receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine shot. 

Officials in the country also are investigating a case in which a 35-year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism — a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot — after she was inoculated. The woman is now recovering. 

Both women worked as nurses at a clinic in the town of Zwettl in Lower Austria, according to the newspaper Niederösterreichische Nachrichten.

“The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl,” it said in a statement

“Currently there is no evidence of a causal relationship with the vaccination,” BASG added. 

The Austrian health agency said that blood clotting has not been a known side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine. People who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine reported experiencing sore patches around the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea. 

Health care workers in France and Germany have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. These effects also were observed in participants of the vaccine’s clinical trial. 

As a safety precaution, officials suspended inoculations with the batches of vaccine that were used until they can rule out any possible link. 

A spokesman for AstraZeneca said it would cooperate with Austrian authorities and support the investigation. The spokesman also added that all batches of its vaccine go through a rigorous quality control process. 

The suspensions come as preliminary data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford indicated that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is effective against the P1, or Brazilian, variant, a source told Reuters.

Data from the University of Oxford study showed that the researchers would not need to modify the vaccine to protect people against the variant.

The source who spoke with Reuters refused to provide the exact efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the P1 variant, but said the full results of the study might be available later this month.

AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine Photo: AFP / Tiziana FABI