WHO renews backing for AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

WION Web Team
Geneva, Switzerland Published: Mar 20, 2021, 11:22 AM(IST)

A file photo of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

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WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was "no question" over the  benefits after the UN health agency's vaccine safety experts found no increase in clotting conditions linked to an AstraZeneca shot.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has -- yet again -- backed the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The health agency has also urged countries to maintain the roll-out after reviewing reports of blood clots.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was "no question" over the  benefits after the UN health agency's vaccine safety experts found no increase in clotting conditions linked to an AstraZeneca shot.

"The available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions following administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. We urge countries to continue using this important vaccine," Tedros told a press conference.

Several European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations on Friday after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) likewise gave their green light on Thursday.

Also read | EU countries to resume AstraZeneca jabs after 'safe' verdict

The WHO's Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) met virtually on Tuesday and Friday. It reviewed available information and data on thromboembolic events (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelets) after vaccination with an AstraZeneca Covid-19 shot.

The committee said the jab "continues to have a positive benefit-risk profile, with tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths across the world. The available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions such as deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism."

Those two conditions "occur naturally and are not uncommon", and also occur as a result of Covid-19, the experts said.

"While very rare and unique thromboembolic events in combination with thrombocytopenia, such as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), have also been reported following vaccination with the AstraZeneca  Covid-19 vaccine in Europe, it is not certain that they have been caused by vaccination."

The GACVS also agreed with the EMA's plans to further investigate and monitor for such events.

Also read | US to share 4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with Mexico, Canada

The EU's EMA regulators have reviewed 18 such cases out of more than 20 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations in Europe, and "a causal relationship between these rare events has not been established at this time".

The AstraZeneca vaccine accounts for more than 90 per cent of the doses being distributed around the world in the first wave of the Covax global vaccine-sharing facility. Just under 30 million doses have so far been distributed to 50 countries as part of the scheme, which aims to ensure poorer nations get enough doses to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of their population by the end of the year.

Also, the WHO vaccine safety experts recommended that countries continue monitoring Covid-19 vaccine safety and report suspected adverse events.

(with inputs from AFP)

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