KEY POINTS

  • A woman developed “major bleeding” a week after getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot
  • Three countries in the EU suspended administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine
  • A team of Norwegian medical experts found a link between blood clotting and the vaccine

A previously healthy woman in Sweden died from severe bleeding a week after getting the first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Swedish Medical Products Agency said on Thursday. 

“This is a case of blood clots in the arteries and veins and major bleeding, ie the unusual disorder that is the focus of the EMA investigation,” Veronica Arthurson, head of drug safety at the Swedish Medical Products Agency, said at a news conference. Her death follows a suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine by Norway, Sweden and Denmark that began Tuesday.

All three countries said they will review the verdict from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s drug watchdog, that said the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine still outweigh risks associated with its use.

“Due to the several serious cases in Norway, we want to thoroughly review the situation before we make a conclusion,” Geir Bukholm, director of the Division of Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, told Euro News

“This will take some time, and we will provide an update at the end of next week,” Bukholm continued. 

There have been reports of people developing blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. And earlier on Thursday, Norwegian medical experts said they found a link between the blood clotting and the vaccine.

The country has administered first doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to about 120,000 people. Six people developed serious side effects after the shot, and two died.

“We have obtained results which may explain the clinical course of our hospitalized patients,” Pal Andre Holme, professor of hematology at the Oslo University Hospital, told reporters hours before the EMA briefing. “These patients had a powerful immune response which led to the formation of antibodies which can affect the platelets and thus lead to a blood clot.” 

However, Holme said he didn't see any other factor that could link the vaccine to the clotting and subsequent deaths. 

On Monday, health authorities in Italy released a report of the death of 57-year-old music teacher Sandro Tognatti after he received the AstraZeneca vaccine Feb. 13. Tognatti fell ill that night and was rushed to the hospital the next morning. He died shortly after. 

The Italian government said they found no evidence linking the music teacher’s death to the vaccine. They also allowed Italian health officials to continue administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The furore around the AstraZeneca jab has marred the global vaccine drive and comes as several countries report spikes in new cases The furore around the AstraZeneca jab has marred the global vaccine drive and comes as several countries report spikes in new cases Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS