The Ministry of State and Ministry of Health have confirmed that Luxembourg will continue using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine regardless of age or gender following the advice of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The announcement came on the occasion of the extraordinary Council meeting of European Union (EU) Ministers of Health on the AstraZeneca vaccine, now known as Vaxzevria.
Following the EMA's statement on Wednesday regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in question, EU Health Ministers met by videoconference that same evening to discuss a common approach to the future roll-out of the Vaxzevria vaccine. On this occasion, Minister Romain Schneider replaced Luxembourg's Minister of Health Paulette Lenert, who is on sick leave until 19 April 2021.
Minister Romain Schneider pointed out that it is crucial that EU Member States have the means to take informed decisions on how to deploy their vaccination strategy in the best possible interest of citizens' public health. He stated: "Our goal remains to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, based on sound scientific evidence about the efficacy and safety of available vaccines".
Although the EMA found a possible link between very rare cases of unusual blood clots and the administration of the Vaxzevria vaccine, it also noted that "[t]he benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine, in terms of prevention of COVID-19 infection, continue to far outweigh the risks and the public should continue to take the vaccine when invited to do so". The EMA analysis, based on data from vaccinated individuals between 18 and 79 years of age, did not reveal any difference between men and women, nor did it confirm, based on currently available data, the existence of specific risk factors.
Based on this scientific assessment by the EMA, Luxembourg has decided to continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine without distinction of age or gender.
In yesterday's statement, the EMA reminded healthcare professionals and recipients of the vaccine to consider the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots occurring within two weeks of vaccination.
Patients should seek immediate medical advice if they experience the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- swelling of the legs
- persistent abdominal pain
- neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision
- small spots of blood under the skin beyond the injection site
Vaxzevria is one of four vaccines authorised in the EU to prevent COVID-19. Studies have shown that it is effective in preventing the disease, as well as reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death related to COVID-19.
The EMA has committed to continue its detailed analysis over the coming months, to keep monitoring the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and to provide the public with the latest information available.