Austria suspends use of batch of Covid jab after death of nurse

Authorities in Austria have stopped vaccinations with a batch of AstraZeneca's inoculation against the coronavirus, after one person died and another became seriously ill after receiving their jabs.

Covid vaccine
Photo: AFP

“The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl” in Lower Austria province, the local health authority said.

“Currently there is no evidence of a causal relationship with the vaccination,” the BASG said, adding that it would now investigate the incidents further.

A 49-year-old woman died as a result of severe coagulation disorders, an illness related to the blood’s ability to clot.

The woman was admitted to the intensive care unit of Vienna General Hospital last weekend after initially being treated at a hospital in Lower Austria. A day after being admitted, the woman died.

“The woman received the first partial vaccination of a Covid19 vaccine ten days before hospital admission,” a spokesperson for the Vienna hospital told the Niederoesterreichische Nachrichten.

Meanwhile, a 35-year-old female developed a pulmonary embolism and is now recovering. A pulmonary embolism is a lung disease that is caused by a dislodged blood clot.

Several local news organization reported that both women were nurses working at the local hospital.

Anton Heinzl, from the centre-left said that “we have to wait for the results of the inquiry. After all, it is an approved vaccine. We first have to see if there is a connection with these cases.”

The far-right FPÖ said on Saturday that “until a connection can be ruled out with certainty, vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine must be suspended with immediate effect.”

SEE ALSO: Austria changes course again on AstraZeneca vaccine

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Austrian states start vaccinations for under 65s

Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Burgenland have completed vaccination of two thirds of over 65s and can now move on to younger age groups. 

A person entering a vaccination centre in Austria

The federal states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Burgenland have entered ‘Phase 3’ of the vaccination campaign, meaning they have begun to vaccinate the under 65s.

So far, authorities in these states have managed to immunise more than two thirds of older age groups.

In Vorarlberg, 69 percent of the over-65s have already been vaccinated, in Tyrol it is 65 percent and in Burgenland 63 percent, the Kurier newspaper reports. 

Two million first vaccinations by early next week

A total of around two million first vaccinations will have been administered by the beginning of next week, the Chancellery reports according to the APA agency. 

In a statement, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “This is good news and we are progressing better than expected.”

How many people has Austria vaccinated? 

Phase One

  • People aged over 80 
  • Personnel in and residents of old people’s and nursing homes 
  • Healthcare personnel with a particularly high risk of infection or with close contact with groups requiring special protection

Over 74 percent of over 80 year olds in Austria have now been vaccinated.

Phase Two

  • People aged over 65
  • Health care workers with a high risk of infection, including mobile care workers.
  • People with disabilities and their personal assistants
  • High-risk patients
  • Close contacts of pregnant women
  • Staff in schools, kindergartens and childcare facilities
  • Selected employees in the penal system, police and armed forces

Around 55 percent of over 65s have now been vaccinated across Austria. 

Phase Three

  • The total population under 65 will be vaccinated, prioritised by age and health risks
  • Occupational vaccination