Brazil has paused the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine on pregnant women following guidance from its federal health regulator. The “immediate suspension” order for the vaccine issued on May 11th stemmed from the death of a pregnant woman post-injection. Two Brazilian states earlier halted the vaccine’s use for pregnant females.
Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) has recommended that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine be immediately suspended in a statement released earlier this year. According to the statement, Anvisa issued the guidance after “constant monitoring of adverse events related to Covid-19 vaccine in use in the country.”
Previously, the State of Sao Paulo suspended the jab for pregnant women with underlying medical conditions. Similarly, Rio de Janeiro suspended it for all pregnant women. Both states cited Anvisa’s guidance as a factor in their pause of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
Rio de Janeiro Health Secretary Alexandre Chieppe confirmed the pregnant woman’s death in the state. He said the 35-year-old woman, who was 23 weeks pregnant, died after getting vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab. She died of a haemorrhagic stroke on May 10th, five days after being hospitalised.
It is unclear if the Rio de Janeiro woman had any underlying medical conditions. Anvisa, however, said that her demise “was assessed as possibly related to the use of the vaccine.” Health authorities are now investigating the woman’s death.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca said in a statement to Reuters that its vaccine clinical trials did not include pregnant and lactating women. It added that studies in animals did not produce direct or indirect evidence of harm on pregnancy and fetal development.
The British drug manufacturer partnered with the Brazilian public health institute Oswalso Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) to distribute its vaccine in the country. It is one of three Covid-19 vaccine candidates permitted in the largest South American nation. Brazil also approved the vaccines manufactured by Sinovac and Pfizer for use there.