Sweden delays decision on whether to restart AstraZeneca jab

Sweden delays decision on whether to restart AstraZeneca jab
Johan Carlson, Director of the Swedish Public Health agency, said on Thursday that more time would be needed to review the evidence surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT
Sweden will not decide on whether to restart vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab until Thursday at the earliest, the country's public health agency has said.

A spokesperson at the Swedish Public Health Agency told The Local that the decision would now not be announced until Thursday, with the possibility of further delays. 

“The decision will be taken on Thursday, earliest,” he said .”The work regarding this has been going on through the weekend, but I have no more details.”

On Friday, a spokesperson at the Swedish Public Health Agency told The Local that the decision would be announced on Monday after the agency’s director Johan Carlson said at a press conference on Thursday that it would take “a few days” to examine Thursday’s report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). But today, The Local was told that the decision date had never been that precise. 

“What I have heard is that it was always ‘sometime next week’, so I don’t think anything special has happened that brings the date forward.”

When The Local approached the Public Health Agency of Sweden last week for more detail on what the further investigations would involve, the agency said it could not reply until the decision had been announced. 

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The EMA on Thursday recommended that countries use the AstraZeneca vaccine, noting that while there had been a higher occurrence of rare blood-clotting disasters among those who had taken the vaccine, the benefits still far outweighed this small risk. 

READ ALSO: Why is Sweden waiting to restart AstraZeneca vaccinations?

Regional vaccine coordinators contacted by SVT said that they hoped the decision would come as early as possible and clearly lay out how the vaccine should be used.

“We are expecting to get a clear ruling on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Maria Landgren, vaccine coordinator in Skåne, told the broadcaster

Jonas Ekström, who is responsible for vaccines in Västmanland, said that it was important what context the agency gave to its decision. 

“If they decide to recommend using AstraZeneca’s vaccine again, it’s important how they back that up. It might be that there’s a recommendation that AstraZeneca’s vaccine should not be used on people in a certain age group, and then you need to precisely lay out the reasons for that decision, so that people who are being recommended the vaccine feel safe.” 

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