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Brazil states suspend AstraZeneca vaccine for pregnant women

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[FILE] Vials with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine against the novel coronavirus are pictured at the vaccination center in Nuremberg, southern Germany, on March 18, 2021. – Germany on March 15 halted the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after reported blood clotting incidents in Europe, saying that a closer look was necessary. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)


Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian states on Tuesday suspended immunization of pregnant women with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on the advice of the national health regulator after a reported death.

The daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said the health ministry was investigating the death of a woman in Rio de Janeiro who had received the vaccine.

The ministry did not confirm the report, but the Anvisa regulator late Monday recommended the “immediate suspension” of AstraZeneca vaccines for pregnant women in line with its “constant monitoring of adverse events with anti-Covid vaccines used in the country.”

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The Rio de Janeiro municipal health secretariat said in a statement that authorities had decided to suspend application of the vaccine to pregnant women and new mothers in the state capital “until the investigation of the case of an adverse event in a pregnant woman is completed by the Ministry of Health.”

Other municipalities in the state adopted the same measure.

The state of Sao Paulo said it would stop vaccinating women with comorbidities.

In all, 22 of Brazil’s 27 states have taken similar steps, reported news site G1.

AstraZeneca said in a statement that pregnant and nursing mothers had been excluded from its vaccine tests, which it said was common practice in clinical trials.

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“There were no adverse effects related to pregnancy observed in studies on animals,” it said.

Several European countries have restricted AstraZeneca shots to older people only, after a link was made between the vaccine and very rare but often fatal blood clots coupled with low platelet levels.

Denmark has abandoned the vaccine entirely and experts in Britain have recommended people under 40 be given an alternative.

Brazil is immunizing the bulk of its population with China’s CoronaVac, with limited doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

The AstraZeneca shot represents about 26 percent of all doses administered in the country so far.

The Latin American giant of 212 million people has so far given one shot to 15 percent of its population, and two shots to seven percent.

It has been hit hard by Covid-19, with a death toll of more than 425,000, second only to the United States.

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