Denmark is first EU country to stop AstraZeneca vaccine and suspend Johnson & Johnson

They were the first to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine on 11 March because of suspected cases of thrombosis, and now they are the first to definitively reject it for all age groups. 

Denmark has decided to continue the anti-Covid vaccination campaign without the Anglo-Swedish serum, which has been officially withdrawn.

The no from Denmark

The news was reported a few hours ago by the Danish TV station TV2 and confirmed by the director of the National Health Agency, Sren Brostrm. 

Without the AstraZeneca vaccine, the vaccination calendar will be postponed "by a few weeks" and a new and updated calendar "in which the AstraZeneca vaccine will no longer be included" will be presented by the Danish authorities. 

As reported by the newspaper Politiken, despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues to recommend this vaccine, especially to over- 60s, because the benefits outweigh the risks in terms of very rare serious side effects, on the basis of a "precautionary principle", central sources of the Danish National Board of Health have decided to definitively discard the Anglo-Swedish vaccine. 

According to the latest information, the discontinuation of the AstraZeneca vaccine should not significantly affect vaccination for older citizens in Denmark, while the delay for the rest of the population will have to be counted in days or weeks.

What will happen to the 2.4 million doses that the country has pre-purchased and all those aready to be administered to the population?

Among other things, Denmark (as well as all of Europe) will also have to reckon with its precautionary decision to suspend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, whose vaccination campaign is scheduled to begin in the next few days.  In short, the Danes will have two fewer serums available and are left with only Pfizer and Moderna. 

Hypothesis of  a “Serbian model” in Denmark

The unexpected stop decided today opens several scenarios.  Despite their huge political differences, in the next few Denmark could decided to adopt a sort of "Serbian model" in which European countries (or those immediately closest) are invited to use the AstraZeneca doses that will not be administered to the Danish people. 

It is more likely, however, that it will be the European Union itself to impose on Denmark the distribution of unused doses and those that the country has pre-ordered and will arrive during 2021.  On the other hand, other European nations unconvinced of AstraZeneca could follow Denmark and decide to stop administering this vaccine especially if the suspension of Johnson & Johnson will continue in the coming days, and the new incoming serums (the German Curevax and the American Novavax) will be approved.

What will happen in Italy?

Italy, now, is in the middle of the road: they are not the UK that is proceeding rapidly with AstraZeneca but they have not (for now) reached the Danish extremes either.  Despite an increasing percentage of people who do not trust the Anglo-Swedish serum and numerous cancellations, the vaccination proceeds and the Health Minister Speranza sings the praises of this vaccine. "I would do it, it's safe.  There has been a problem of communication and change of line, but it is an important weapon that we have", hea said in a statement.