BRAZIL – Following the recommendation of Anvisa, national regulator in Brazil, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine program was suspended on Tuesday for pregnant women in several states in the South American country after a death occurred in Rio de Janeiro, according to reports. Rio has reportedly halted vaccinations of all women, while Sao Paulo has suspended them for women with pre-existing medical conditions who are pregnant.
Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian news outlet, reported that a pregnant woman in Rio de Janeiro who had received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot later died; the incident is being investigated by the country’s health ministry to see if the vaccine could have played a part in the woman’s demise.
With the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine and a shortage of vaccines from other manufacturers in Brazil at the moment, pregnant women reportedly have almost no options when it comes to getting inoculated against the COVID-19 pandemic until after the health ministry concludes its inquiry, providing that the AstraZeneca drug is indeed deemed safe.
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While it is being used in several countries at the moment, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the United States, where it is currently in large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials and is expected to be potentially approved in the “coming weeks,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Reuters previously reported that AstraZeneca had excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women from their clinical trials, but that animal-based tests didn’t show any issues with “pregnancy or fetal development.”