By Bennett Oghifo
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday advised countries to continue administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, stating that it was safe and effective.
The global health organisation’s advice is in response to the suspension of the vaccine’s use by 10 European countries, following claims of blood clot associated with its use.
However, the spokesperson of WHO, Dr. Margaret Harris, said in a virtual press conference yesterday that they were aware of “blood clot concerns linked to a specific batch of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.”
Harris said, “As of 9 March, there have been over 268 million doses of vaccine delivered since the start of the pandemic.
“Based on data reported – that’s data reported to WHO by national governments – no causes of death have been found or been caused by COVID-19 vaccines to date.”
She said the claim about the AstraZeneca vaccine was being investigated by the organisation’s independent expert global advisory board, SAGE, and that its report would be made public, but that countries should not stop its inoculation.
She said blood clotting episodes were “common occurrence in people, so, it’s not clear if this is something that is going to happen, or whether the vaccine is responsible,” adding that “a causal relationship has not been shown.”
She said the risk assessment committee of the European Union medical agencies’, Pharmacovigilance, had vouched for the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying that its “benefits outweigh the risks.”
Meanwhile, some European countries, including Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Italy and Thailand have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while investigating suspicion that incidences of blood clot in some patients that were inoculated could have been caused by the vaccine.
Denmark was first to suspend administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, for two weeks, after a 60-year-old woman who had been inoculated had blood clot and died.
The suspension, the Danish government said, “follows reports of serious cases of blood clots among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine,” adding “it has not been determined, at the time being, that there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.”
The World Health Organisation approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, on February 15, this year.