Slovakia suspends use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for first doses after blood clot-linked death of recipient

Slovakia will halt its rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people being given their first doses, its Health Ministry has said, after an inquiry into the death of a person who suffered blood clots after receiving the jab.

The death of a 47-year-old woman was likely connected to her receiving the Anglo-Swedish vaccine, due to a medical predisposition she had for blood clotting disorders, the country’s regulator, the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) said last week.

“Currently, people who are waiting for the second dose … are [still] being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Ministry spokesperson Zuzana Eliasova said on Tuesday.

She added that the ministry was considering several alternatives for its ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaign, with the next steps to be announced later this week.

SUKL said last week that an autopsy had found that the woman had suffered cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – blood clotting preventing blood draining from the brain.

An association between her vaccination and the blood clots was considered “likely” because of her “genetic predisposition to a thrombophilic state,” the institute explained in a statement.

A number of other European countries have also reported cases of blood clots in people given AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, resulting in its use being suspended or limited to certain age groups.

The European Medicines Agency has said that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria,” but, overall, the jab’s benefits outweigh the risks.