'No Evidence' Death After AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Caused by Shot

There is "no evidence" COVID vaccines caused the death and illness of two people in Austria, health authorities in the country said.

On Sunday, the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) said it had received reports of two individuals—both women from the district of Zwettl—who experienced serious health problems following administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Both individuals had received doses from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine. BASG said the two reports were in "temporal connection" with vaccinations from the batch in question.

According to the BASG, one of the women, 49, died as a result of severe coagulation disorders, which affect the clotting ability of the blood.

The other woman, 35, developed a pulmonary embolism— a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs—and is on the way to recovery.

"Currently, there is no evidence of a causal relationship with vaccination. Based on the known clinical data, a causal relationship cannot be established, as thrombotic events in particular are not among the known or typical side effects of the vaccine in question," BASG said in a statement.

The term "thrombotic events" refers to incidents in which blood clots form inside blood vessels, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system.

"According to current knowledge, the clinical data do not show any worrying data or signals in this respect compared to placebo," the BASG said. "The immediately initiated international analysis of side effect reports also shows no accumulation of similar case reports so far."

BASG said "all necessary investigations" are now underway in order to completely exclude a possible connection with the vaccine batch and the adverse effects experienced by the two women from Zwettl.

As a precaution, Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with remaining stocks of the batch in question.

Large-scale clinical trials and data from real-world use have shown that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective. Many people don't experience notable side effects but the most commonly reported ones tend to be mild to moderate in nature. These side effects usually resolve within a few days. Blood clotting issues were not reported in clinical trials.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca told Reuters: "There have been no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine."

When it comes to fatalities that occur shortly after immunization, experts say it is important to be aware that these associations are likely due to random chance and are not necessarily evidence of cause and effect. The fact that the vaccines are being given to millions of people increases the odds of these chance associations occurring.

"Many of the most severe side effects commonly attributed to vaccines are actually due to random chance correlated with other health factors or timing," Irving Coy Allen, an associate professor of immunology at Virginia Tech, told Newsweek.

Nevertheless, there is still a remote possibility that the death in Austria could have been caused by an incredibly rare side effect of the vaccine.

Kent Woods, former chief executive of the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, previously told Newsweek: "Even in young people, a close time relationship between vaccination and sudden death does not constitute sound evidence of a causal connection."

Newsweek has contacted BASG and AstraZeneca for comment.

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A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on March 7, 2021 in Perth, Australia. Simon Santi – Pool/Getty Images