WHO says Astrazeneca vaccine safe as Germany, Italy, France halt rollout
New Delhi, Mar 16: Amid sporadic reports of blood clots, a number of countries, including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus have paused the vaccine. Spain said it will stop using the AZ vaccine for at least two weeks.
The fresh development is a major blow to a global immunisation campaign that experts hope will help end a pandemic that has already killed over 2.6 million people and decimated the global economy.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which is being produced by Serum Institute of India, is part of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in India. Both, Covishield (AstraZeneca/Oxford) and Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) are currently being administered in the country as part of the drive.
The WHO, which has scheduled a meeting of its experts on Tuesday to discuss the vaccine's safety, insisted countries should keep using the vaccine.
"We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca," WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.
"So far, we do not find an association between these events and the vaccine," she said, referring to reports of blood clots from several countries.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), also backed the WHO's calls for calm and said it was better to get the vaccine than not.
"The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects," the agency said in a statement Monday.
The UK has doled out more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab - more than the entire EU - apparently without major problems.