Coronavirus | WHO says no reason to stop using AstraZeneca vaccine

Many nations pause its use over blood clot fears

Updated - March 12, 2021 10:03 pm IST

Published - March 12, 2021 09:38 pm IST - Geneva

A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19.

A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19.

The World Health Organization said on Friday there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several countries suspended the rollout over blood clot fears.

The WHO, which said its vaccines advisory committee was examining the safety data coming in, stressed that no causal link had been established between the vaccine and clotting.

The UN agency also said that after the injection of more than 260 million vaccine doses so far around the world, no deaths had yet been attributed to a COVID-19 jab.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland paused the use of the AstraZeneca jab as a precaution after isolated reports of recipients developing blood clots.

Italy and Austria have banned the use of shots from separate batches of AstraZeneca, and Thailand and Bulgaria said they would delay the rollout of the shot.

A range of health authorities around the world have insisted the jab is safe, including the European Medicines Agency and the WHO.

“AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva. “Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she added, stressing though that any concerns over safety must be investigated.

“We must always ensure that we look for any safety signals when we roll out vaccines, and we must review them,” she said.

“But there is no indication to not use it.”

No causal link found

The EMA said Thursday that there had been 30 cases of so-called thromboembolic events among five million people who had received the jab in Europe.

But European countries could still keep using the vaccine, the EU’s drug regulator said.

Ms. Harris said that while a few countries had, as a precaution, suspended the use of a specific batch of AstraZeneca vaccine distributed in Europe, based on reports of blood coagulation disorders, “a causal relationship has not been shown”.

 

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