AstraZeneca Covid vaccine (file photo) Photograph:( Reuters )
Ontario's chief medical officer for health, Dr David Williams, said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution because of increased instances of the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot
Canada's largest province said on Tuesday it will stop giving out first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine due to concerns over its link to rare blood clots.
Ontario's chief medical officer for health, Dr David Williams, said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution because of increased instances of the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.
AstraZeneca is restricted in some European countries because of a potential link to extremely rare blood clots.
"Over the last few days, there have been increased reports," Williams said. "We are reviewing the data to consider options for the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses and more broadly."
In Canada, at least 12 cases have been confirmed out of more than two million doses given, and three women have died.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford both received AstraZeneca first dose in recent weeks. Williams said people who got the first dose of AstraZeneca 'absolutely did the right thing’.
Dr Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme at Sinai-University Health Network, does not believe Canada should be using AstraZeneca any longer now that Canada has large supplies of other vaccines.
"It's the right thing to do," he said.
Morris said experts don't know yet what to do about people, who got only the first dose. Health officials are awaiting results of a clinical trial in the United Kingdom looking at giving a different vaccine for the second dose. That would allow people, who got AstraZeneca first to be given Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.
Alberta is also no longer administrating first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but only because of a lack of supply.
Pfizer and Moderna are sending more than enough doses to vaccinate every Canadian with two doses eventually.
Trudeau said almost 50% of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. Most of that is Pfizer and Moderna.
Trudeau said by the summer, Canada will have enough vaccines so that every eligible resident will have gotten their first dose and by September, it will have enough doses for everyone to be fully vaccinated.
(With inputs from agencies)