1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

COVID digest: More countries suspend use of AstraZeneca shot

March 15, 2021

The Netherlands and Ireland joined a host of countries temporarily halting the use of the vaccine following reports of blood clotting and low platelet count in Norway and Denmark. Follow DW for the latest.

AstraZeneca symbol image
Question marks persist over the consequences of taking the AstraZeneca COVID vaccineImage: Christian Ohde/CHROMORANGE/picture alliance

The Netherlands became the latest country to suspend the use of the COVID-19 vaccine, after reports from Denmark and Norway about possible serious side effects. The Dutch government said that it would suspend the use until March 29.

The move follows a clash between the police and anti-lockdown protesters in The Hague, a day before a three-day general election. The police arrested 20 people, used water cannon on protesters after they broke COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Ireland's health officials recommended suspending the use of the COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clotting and lower blood platelet counts in Norway and Denmark.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, the country's deputy chief medical officer, said that the suspension was recommended as a precaution as there was no conclusive link between the vaccine and the possible side effects.

AstraZeneca said on Sunday that there was no evidence of increased risk of blood clots from its vaccine, after a review of safety data of people vaccinated with its vaccine.

"A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with the COVID-19 vaccine of AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the company said.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Iceland have suspended the use of the vaccine, while Austria stopped using a batch of shots last week.

Brazil reported 1,127 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Brazil recorded 12,818 deaths from the virus this week - pointing to a resurgence as bad as that of last year. 

Brazil has now recorded 278,229 deaths from COVID-19.

The US' top virologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Sunday that former president Donald Trump should make an effort to persuade his supporters to get vaccinated. Fauci said that it would be a "game changer" if Trump used his "incredible influence" among Republicans.

Fauci made the comment after a poll showed that Trump supporters are more likely to refuse to get vaccinated.

DW has an overview of other major COVID developments around the world.


In an interview published Sunday with Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said "it is true that mistakes were made when ordering the vaccines in Brussels as well as in the member states."

The rollout of COVID vaccines in EU countries has been hampered by delivery bottlenecks, regulatory issues and bureaucratic hurdles. The EU has been criticized for strategic errors in ordering vaccines.

The Dutch politician said the EU's priority is to ensure "all of Europe gets a vaccine." After the pandemic, the EU can then assess "what we did wrong, and what we did right," he added. 

The commission has ordered at least 1.4 billion doses of the four EU-approved COVID vaccines. However, vaccine makers like AstraZeneca have had to reduce their planned deliveries due to production problems.

In the latest setback, AstraZeneca has announced that it will be delivering only 100 million of the expected 220 million doses to EU states by the middle of 2021.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she expects many more doses to be available from April onwards.

The German Economic Institute (IW) estimates that Germany's winter lockdown has cost the economy over €50 billion in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

In total, the pandemic has cost Germany's gross domestic product €250 billion, according to IW calculations.

German clinics seeking volunteers

A German medical care union is warning of a shortfall of intensive care (ICU) nurses as a larger number of workers consider moving to other jobs.

According to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), around 32% of specialist nurses said they are thinking of switching jobs.

"We absolutely have to stop this flight from the nursing profession," DIVI President Gernot Marx told Germany's Funke Media Group on Sunday.

"We need to improve the working conditions and the attractiveness" of intensive care nursing, he added.

COVID in Germany has strained the capacity of intensive care stations. According to DIVI, just over 3,800 intensive care beds are currently free in Germany.

Meanwhile, state elections are being held Sunday in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. Due to coronavirus, a record number of ballots will be cast by mail. Those who show up to polling stations will be subject to strict hygiene regulations. 

On Sunday, Germany's Robert Koch Institute for disease control reported 10,790 new COVID cases.  

Ireland's vaccine taskforce has recommended temporarily suspending the rollout of AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine. The decision comes after several EU countries also stopped administering the shots last week over blood clot concerns. 

Ireland's deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said the recommendation was "precautionary" following a report from the Norwegian Medicines Agency outlining "four new reports of serious blood clotting events in adults after vaccination."


Singapore said on Sunday it hopes to start reopening its borders to tourists at the end of 2021 and could allow travel with Australia even sooner under a "travel bubble" that could start in July. 

The travel bubble would allow vaccinated people to travel between Singapore and Australia.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a TV interview that said Singapore was also discussing the use of "vaccine certificates" with other countries.

"As the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia but in other countries, we will reopen more bubbles," he said. 

Authorities in Pakistan are imposing a partial lockdown in areas of Punjab, as a third COVID wave grips the country's largest province. 

Authorities have already fined dozens of marriage halls and restaurants for violating the new restrictions. 

Middle East

Protests have erupted in a number of cities and provincial towns in Jordan over the government's handling of the coronavirus, a day after oxygen ran out at a state hospital leading to the deaths of at least six COVID-19 patients.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in defiance of a night curfew in the northern city of Irbid and several other provincial cities including a neighborhood in the capital, Amman, and the city of Salt. Protesters also gathered further south in Karak city and the port city of Aqaba.

"Down with the government. We don't fear coronavirus," hundreds of youths chanted in Irbid, where outrage at the hospital scandal combined with anger over tighter restrictions were evident on the streets.

Israel starts vaccinating Palestinian laborers

wmr,jsi/sri (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)