Denmark’s top health official keels over and faints while announcing halt of AstraZeneca vaccine

Denmark’s top health official Tanja Erichsen suddenly fainted during a press conference on Wednesday while announcing the country’s decision to completely abandon the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reported side effects.

Erichsen heads Denmark’s Medicines Agency. She was standing next to National Board of Health Director Soeren Brostroem and in front of reporters when she collapsed.

After she hit the floor, three men ran to her side to help her. One of them attempted to raise her legs up. The others turned her on her side. Erichsen was transported to a hospital and has since recovered, BBC News reported. There is no word on why she fainted or if it was related to COVID-19. It is also unclear if she has been vaccinated but she reportedly promotes getting inoculated on her Twitter feed.

Denmark is the first European country to halt the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine and to declare a permanent suspension of it after being linked to “rare” blood clots. It was approved by the World Health Organization in February. Two cases were reported in the country of individuals suffering from blood clots after receiving the vaccine. One 60-year-old woman died from the side-effect. Fifteen other nations have halted the use of the vaccine out of health concerns.

 

“Based on the scientific findings, our overall assessment is there is a real risk of severe side effects associated with using the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca,” Brostroem remarked in a statement. “We have, therefore, decided to remove the vaccine from our vaccination [program].”

This comes after the Danish Health Authority stated that “there is a link between rare, but serious” side effects connected to the vaccine.

Denmark originally claimed that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not needed because it had already reached “such an advanced point” in its vaccine deployment. The Danish Health Authority released a statement on Wednesday over the halt of the vaccine: “We are basically in agreement with EMA’s [European Medicine Agency] assessment regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine. That is why it is important to emphasize that it is still an approved vaccine [in Europe],” noted Brostroem. “And I understand if other countries in a different situation than us choose to continue using the vaccine.”

“If Denmark were in a completely different situation and in the midst of a violent third outbreak, for example, and a healthcare system under pressure — and if we had not reached such an advanced point in our rollout of the vaccines — then I would not hesitate to use the vaccine, even if there were rare but severe complications associated with using it,” he declared.

The decision to discontinue AstraZeneca’s vaccine will delay the scheduled conclusion of Denmark’s vaccination program. It will now conclude somewhere between July 25 and early August, health authorities claim.

That assumption is contingent upon the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that rollout in Europe has also been delayed over similar clotting concerns. The vaccine makes up about a third of the country’s total supply.

AstraZeneca has stated that it respects Denmark’s decision and will continue to provide the country with data as it applies to future decisions.

The Danish Medicines Agency tweeted on the collapse of Erichsen: “Our head of pharmacovigilance, Tanja Erichsen, fainted during today’s press conference. She is conscious again and is okay under the circumstances, but for safety’s sake she takes a trip by ambulance to the emergency room to be checked.”

The video went viral and social media sounded off:

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