(Adds comment from health ministry)
COPENHAGEN/ZURICH, April 15 (Reuters) - Denmark said on Thursday it had not yet decided what to do with leftover AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after a senior figure from the World Health Organization suggested the Nordic country would share them with other nations.
Denmark this week became the first country to stop using AstraZeneca’s vaccine altogether, as European officials investigate reports of rare blood clots combined with low platelet counts that have occurred in Europe and Britain.
The decision has sparked debate in Denmark about what to do with the vaccines.
Opposition parties argue the authorities should still make the shot available to Danes willing to take it. The government has asked health authorities to examine this option.
Denmark currently has just over 200,000 vaccines, but is set to receive another 3.5 million under previous agreements, the State Serum Institute told Reuters.
“The government has not yet decided what to do with the purchased AstraZeneca vaccines,” the Danish Health Ministry said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
The Norwegian government said on Thursday it will take more time to assess whether to resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine or stop it altogether.
The WHO, which along with Britain and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues to recommend AstraZeneca’s shot on the grounds that the benefits outweigh the risks, has been pushing countries not to hoard vaccines that they are not using.
World Bank President David Malpass called on countries on Thursday to contribute their “excess” doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.
The lion’s share of vaccines distributed globally, so far, have gone to wealthier nations.
“I understand that the ministry of foreign affairs of Denmark is ready to, or looking already into options, for sharing AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries,” WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge told reporters on Thursday following talks with Danish Health Authority director Soren Brostrom.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said her country would gladly take the shots: “We still have less vaccines then people willing to be vaccinated. Therefore, Lithuania has expressed readiness to take as many doses of Astra Zeneca, as Denmark is ready to share.”
Reporting by John Miller in Zurich, Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels and Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen; Editing by Alison Williams and Keith Weir