On Oct. 8, Iceland announced that it was halting the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine after other Nordic nations took similar measures. But unlike Sweden, Denmark, and Finland that have all banned the vaccine’s use in young people, Iceland went further and has prohibited Moderna for all citizens.
A press release by Iceland’s Directorate of Health states that the country was using Moderna vaccines “almost exclusively” for the past two months in its booster campaign among immunocompromised individuals and the elderly. Among youngsters in the age group of 12 to 17, only Pfizer vaccines are recommended for the primary shot.
“As there is a sufficient supply of Pfizer vaccine in Iceland for both the pre-vaccine activation vaccines and the primary vaccinations of those who have not yet been vaccinated, the epidemiologist has decided not to use the Moderna vaccine in Iceland, while providing further information on the safety of the Moderna vaccine, “ the Directorate of Health said in the press release.
As of Oct. 7, over 82 percent of Iceland’s population had received at least one shot of a COVID-9 vaccine, with more than 80 percent being fully vaccinated. Roughly 20,000 of the country’s 366,000 citizens are fully vaccinated with Moderna.
The press release cited similar bans on Moderna vaccines placed by other Nordic nations. On Oct. 6, Sweden prohibited the use of Moderna among those born after 1991. The country’s health agency stated that data from Sweden and other Nordic nations showed a “clear” connection between Moderna and specific side effects, “especially after the second dose.”
“Both myocarditis and pericarditis often go away on their own, without causing any lasting problems, but suspicious symptoms should be assessed by a doctor at … a health center or emergency room… Medical treatment and monitoring in hospital may be needed in established cases,” the agency stated. The report is being studied by the adverse reaction committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Denmark has prohibited Moderna vaccines for citizens under the age of 18. In Norway, the government has desisted from issuing a ban. Instead, the administration is urging people under the age of 30 to choose Pfizer over Moderna. In Finland, men under the age of 30 will not receive Moderna vaccines.
Outside of Nordic nations, the Public Health Agency of Canada has also warned about Moderna. It said that vaccine safety surveillance data show “relatively higher rates” of myocarditis and pericarditis among those vaccinated with Moderna compared to Pfizer.
“As part of the careful monitoring of these vaccines, reports of rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) after immunization with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be reported in Canada and around the world,” the agency said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a Sept. 30 report published at the European Journal of Epidemiology Vaccines found that fully vaccinated nations had the highest number of new COVID-19 cases.
The study is based on data collected during a seven-day period in the month of September. Portugal and Iceland, two countries where over 75 percent of the population are fully inoculated, have “more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people” than countries like South Africa and Vietnam where only about 10 percent of the population are fully inoculated.
“The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants,” the study said.