Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Suspended batches of AstraZeneca not distributed in Portugal

Batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were suspended in several European countries following reports of blood clots, have not been distributed in Portugal, according to the Portuguese health authorities, local media reported on Saturday.

The country’s Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and Portuguese regulator Infarmed said in a joint statement that the decision by some countries to temporarily suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine was “a precautionary measure,” and that the link between vaccination and thromboembolic events had not been confirmed.

The health authorities added that “people can be vaccinated according to the schedule made” and that “vaccine safety is of the utmost importance.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and all competent national authorities, including Infarmed and DGS, are “continuously monitoring the safety of vaccines, to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks, in conjunction with its international partners,” according to the statement.

DGS and Infarmed said that “thromboembolic events can occur naturally, and are not uncommon” and that the number of cases reported so far among vaccinated people in the European Union is not higher than that which occurs naturally in the general population.

“So far, the available evidence does not confirm that this vaccine is the cause of the thromboembolic events recorded after vaccination, and these events are being carefully assessed by national and European experts,” they pointed out.

Around 5 million people have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU. The DGS and Infarmed reiterated that “the benefits of this vaccine continue to outweigh the risks, so the vaccine can continue to be administered on the dates scheduled for that purpose.”