No reasons to stop use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine: WHO

Denmark temporarily suspending the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine as a precautionary measure after a few patients developed blood clots.
AstraZeneca Covid vaccine
AstraZeneca Covid vaccine
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As many European countries have temporarily suspended the rollout of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine over fears of blood clots, the World Health Organisation (WHO) backed the vaccine, stating that there is no reason to stop using it. The vaccine has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and is manufactured in India as Covishield by the Serum Institute of India. 

"AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used," Margaret Harris, a WHO communications officer, told reporters at a briefing in Geneva. "We have reviewed the data on deaths. There has been no death, to date, proven to have been caused by vaccination," she said.

The health authorities in Denmark on Thursday said that they are temporarily suspending the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for two weeks as a precautionary measure after some patients developed blood clots since receiving the jab, including one who died, digital news publisher The Local reported.

The move comes "following reports of serious cases of blood clots among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine", the Danish Health Authority said in a statement.

But it cautiously added that "it has not been determined, at the time being, that there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots".

Nevertheless, it asked the regional authorities in charge of vaccine rollout to stop using the AstraZeneca jab until further notice, the report said.

Apart from Denmark, Norway and Iceland have also temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine.

The Danish decision came days after Austria suspended the use of a particular batch of the drug as a woman died 10 days after taking it. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have also stopped using the batch, the BBC reported.

European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union agency responsible for evaluating and approving medical products, said that it did not recommend suspending the vaccine. The agency said that as of March 9, 2021, “22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the 3 million people vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area.”

EMA also said that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. It said that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be continued to be administered while the cases of thromboembolic events are investigated. It also added that while a quality defect is unlikely at this stage, the batch quality s being investigated.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said that the safety of the vaccine was extensively studied in phase three of the clinal trial and that the peer-reviewed data confirmed the vaccine is generally well tolerated.

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