(CNBC) LONDON — Denmark, Norway and Iceland announced Thursday they will temporarily suspend the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
The Danish Health Authority said it would temporarily stop using the shot in its vaccination program as a precaution “after reports of severe cases of blood clots in people who have been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.”
“Against this background, the European Medicines Agency has launched an investigation into the AstraZeneca vaccine. One report relates to a death in Denmark. At present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots,” the health authority said in a statement.
It did not specify how many reports of blood clots there had been, or where they had originated.
Later on Thursday, both Iceland and Norway made similar announcements.
Local media reported that Thailand also delayed its rollout as well as plans to inoculate Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cabinet with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The prime minister was slated to be the country’s first recipient and had been scheduled to be vaccinated Friday morning, according to local media.
The announcements come after a similar move in Austria at the start of the week, where authorities are investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after they received doses of the vaccine.
Shares of AstraZeneca on the London market slipped 2.5% on Thursday. The University of Oxford would not comment on the announcement when contacted by CNBC.
A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said the company was aware of the statement made by the Danish Health Authority that it’s currently investigating potential adverse effects related to the vaccine.
“Patient safety is the highest priority for AstraZeneca. Regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine, and that includes COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. The safety of the vaccine has been extensively studied in Phase III clinical trials and Peer-reviewed data confirms the vaccine is generally well tolerated,” AstraZeneca said in a statement to CNBC.
Soren Brostrom, director of the National Board of Health in Denmark, insisted that the 14-day suspension was a precaution while investigations took place.
“It is important to emphasize that we have not opted out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that we are putting it on hold. There is good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective. But both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries,” he said.