Several countries halt use of AstraZeneca vaccine; while WHO urges world not to pause vaccination

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FRANCE 24 reports t that Denmark was the first country to halt its use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on March 11 after reports of blood clots in some people, including one person who developed multiple clots and died 10 days after receiving at least one dose. Danish health authorities reportedly said the suspension would last for at least two weeks while the cases were being investigated while also noting that, “at present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots”.

Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Thailand, and Congo soon followed suit. On March 13y, Norwegian authorities reported that four people under the age of 50 who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine had an unusually low number of blood platelets, which could lead to severe bleeding. Shortly afterward, Ireland and the Netherlands announced that they were also temporarily halting their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Italy also moved on March 11 to ban a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports "of some serious adverse effects," according to Deutsche Welle (DW). The country's medicine regulator stressed, however, that there was currently no established link between the alleged side-effects and the administration of doses.

Most national health authorities underscored that the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine was strictly precautionary.

Blood clots that form in the arms, legs or elsewhere can sometimes break free and travel to the heart, brain or lungs, causing strokes, heart attacks or a deadly blockage of blood flow.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in adults in more than 50 countries and has been proven to be safe and effective in research done in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. But there have been concerns raised about how the vaccine data have been released, and some European leaders have questioned the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed to countries on March 15 not to pause vaccination campaigns after two more European nations and one in Asia joined a handful which have suspended use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over safety fears.

According to Reuters, the WHO said its advisory panel was reviewing reports related to the shot and would release its findings as soon as possible. But it said it was unlikely to change its recommendations, issued last month, for widespread use, including in countries where the South African variant of the virus may reduce its efficacy.

Recall, the first consignment of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in India, totaling 192,000 doses, was delivered to Tajikistan on March 8. Through COVAX, Tajikistan is expected to receive 624 000 doses by May 2021. The start date of vaccination in the country is not yet known

Source: Asia-Plus