Italy bans AstraZeneca batch amid reports of deaths

Probes in Sicily into deaths of serviceman and police officer

11 March, 19:12

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, MARCH 11 - Italy has banned an AstraZeneca vaccine batch after reports of two suspect deaths in Sicily and after several other European countries stopped using batches due to suspected fatal blood clots.

    But it downplayed suggestions of a causal link.

    The death of a 43-year-old Italian serviceman in Sicily is linked to the decision by Italian medicines agency AIFA to ban the use of one batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, batch ABV2856, sources said on Thursday.

    AIFA said that it has banned doses from the ABV2856 batch being given as a precautionary measure after reports of "serious adverse events".

    It stressed that there was no proof of a link between the vaccine being given and these events.

    Stefano Paternò, a member of the Italian Navy serving at Augusta in Sicily, died early on Wednesday of a heart attack at his home, the sources said.

    The previous day he had had the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the batch AIFA has banned, according to the sources.

    Prosecutors have opened an probe and have placed around 10 people under investigation on suspicion of manslaughter.

    They include people involved in the distribution of the vaccine and the health personnel who gave the jab.

    Catania prosecutors, meanwhile, have opened a probe into the case of Davide Villa, a 50-year-old police officer who died 12 days ago after being vaccinated for COVID-19, sources said on Thursday.

    The policeman received a jab from the same AstraZeneca batch that Italian medicines agency AIFA has decided to ban as a precautionary measure, the sources said.

    Denmark and Norway have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after reports in Denmark of one death and of people having blood clots after vaccination.

    Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have stopped using doses from Astrazeneca batch ABV5300, after Austrian reports of a woman dying of blood coagulation problems after being vaccinated.

    As sources said the banned batch had been distributed across Italy and panic spread among those who have had or are set to have the jab, with a wave of cancellations, Premier Mario Draghi had a phone conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in which it emerged that there is no link between cases of thrombosis registered in Europe and the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, premier's office sources said.

    Italian drugs agency AIFA chief Giorgio Palù said Thursday "a causal link is yet to be shown" between the jab and the clots.

    Two thirds of Italy's population will have had their first dose of the COVID vaccine by the start of the summer, Health Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri told Italian radio Thursday. By October, he said, two thirds of the population will also have had the second shot of the jab. Sileri also said the government would impose further restrictions in areas where infection risks are higher but there would be no sudden moves such as those occasionally taken by the last government. Stressing that all fresh restrictions would be based on the scientific recommendations of the COVID task force, Sileri said "there won't be a lockdown from one day to another, but there will be time to prepare". Former premier Giuseppe Conte's government came in for particular criticism for suddenly slamming the door shut on ski operators after they had been gearing up to resume activities.(ANSAmed). (ANSA).

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