WHO backs use of AstraZeneca vaccine; approves J&J for COVID variants

WION Web Team
Geneva, Switzerland Published: Mar 17, 2021, 08:02 PM(IST)

British sports chiefs back use of 'vaccine passports' to fill stadiums Photograph:( Reuters )

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The statement has come after several countries temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca after a few cases of formation of blood clots were reported around the world

After several countries imposed a temporary suspension on AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) has backed the use of this vaccine.

WHO has recommended countries to continue using AstraZeneca's vaccine 'at this time', till the experts conclude the ongoing assessment of reports that claimed blood clotting to be a side-effect of the vaccine.

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"The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is carefully assessing the latest available safety data," the agency said in a statement. "At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue."

Experts at WHO have assured that the results of the review will be communicated as soon as the assessment of the reports is finished.

The statement has come after several countries temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca after a few cases of formation of blood clots were reported around the world.

However, the European Union's medicines regulator has stressed that, as of now, there is no evidence that points towards a link between the vaccine shot and formation of blood clots — termed as thromboembolic events.

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The WHO backed this by explaining that it is a routine procedure for experts and countries to flag any potential side-effects of a vaccine, but also stressed that "this does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place".

"Vaccination against Covid-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes," WHO assured. "Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally." 

Meanwhile, WHO experts have also recommended Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine for use against the different variants of coronavirus.

"We have a vaccine that shows to be safe and it shows to have the necessary efficacy to be recommended by us for use in people above the age of 18, without an upper age limit," SAGE chair Alejandro Cravioto said. "In the countries where there is a high spread of the variants and in countries where we now have information about the use of this vaccine to control SARS-CoV-2 caused by these variants, we recommend that you use it."

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