Thailand delays Oxford vaccine rollout amid blood clot reports


Thailand has delayed its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, a health official said on Friday, after several European nations suspended their programmes over reports of blood clots.

The kingdom was scheduled to start the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rollout on Friday with the prime minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, expected to get the first jab.

“Vaccine injection for Thais must be safe, we do not have to be in a hurry,” said Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, an adviser for the country’s Covid-19 vaccine committee.

“Though the quality of AstraZeneca is good, some countries have asked for a delay. We will delay [as well].”

Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine the day before. Austria on Sunday stopped using doses from one batch after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving an anti-Covid shot.

There is no established link between the vaccine and side-effects of blood clots, and Denmark stressed its move was merely precautionary to examine the risks more closely.

“We are waiting for Denmark and Austria to make a conclusion,” said Thai virologist Yong Poovarawan.

“We are delaying to let others prove [the side-effects] of whether or not it is because of the vaccine or if it is only on that specific batch,” he said, adding that the batch Thailand received was manufactured in a factory in Asia.

Thailand appears to have escaped the brunt of the coronavirus, registering 26,000 cases and 85 deaths.

It began its vaccination campaign last month with the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine. Health workers were the first to receive the injections on 28 February.

Australia on Friday said it would continue using the vaccine. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he had discussed the reports with the health department secretary, Brendan Murphy, who did not believe there was a need to change Australia’s classification of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Morrison said Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration considered data from overseas rollouts as well as conducting its own testing of the vaccine batches being distributed across Australia.