WHO warns against vaccine panic: “Countries should continue to vaccinate with AstraZeneca”

Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusPhoto: Salvatore Di Nolfi / Keystone via AP, file

More and more countries are stopping the use of AstraZeneca’s corona vaccine out of fear that it could cause blood clots. The WHO warns against panic and recommends continued use.

“People must not panic. For the time being, we recommend that countries continue to vaccinate with AstraZeneca,” WHO’s head of research Soumya Swaminathan noted.

She emphasized that no deaths have so far been attributed to any of the corona vaccines that have been used.

WHO experts will meet on Tuesday to assess reports of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s possible side effects, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Germany’s decision

On Monday, German health authorities suspended the use of the corona vaccine from AstraZeneca, which has been developed at Oxford University in the UK.

Germany has received 3 million doses of the vaccine, and 1.6 million doses have been administered.

According to Minister of Health Jens Spahn, there have been seven cases of blood clots among those who have received the vaccine.

“It happens very rarely. The risk is very low, but if there is really a connection with the vaccine, then it is a disproportionate risk,” Spahn said.

The EMA’s position

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) maintained on Monday that the vaccine’s benefit outweighs the risk.

“The number of cases of blood clots in vaccinated people does not seem to be higher than what is seen in the general population,” the EMA emphasized.

“The EMA’s Security Committee (PRAC) will review further information on Tuesday and has convened an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, March 18, to draw conclusions based on the information obtained, and assess what further measures may need to be taken,” the EMA said.

Macron’s move

Shortly after Germany’s decision, French President Emmanuel Macron also announced that France would temporarily suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Macron did not say why but stated that the vaccine would not be used again until the EMA makes a new recommendation.

“We hope we can use it again soon if the EMA’s assessment allows it,” Macron said.


Italy is also stopping the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which according to the country’s Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, is taking place in consultation with, among others, Germany, France, and Spain.

“The decision taken in the largest European countries is only a precautionary measure until the EMA’s next meeting,” Speranza said.

Spain suspended the use of the vaccine for 15 days on Monday, and Portugal followed suit and announced a temporary halt after administering 400,000 doses of the vaccine.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Thailand, Sweden, and the Congo have already put the vaccine on hold.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency justifies its decision with the fact that three vaccinated people who had a blood clot in Norway had “a rare disease picture” that is similar to what has been reported in several other European countries.

PM Johnson not worried

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, does not share the concern about the vaccine’s possible side effects.

“It is believed that it is very effective in reducing not only hospitalizations, but also serious illness and death,” he said on Monday.

AstraZeneca states that, so far, 17 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Europe, and that among those who have received the vaccine, there have been 37 cases of blood clots. 

According to the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company, the number is as expected for such a large group of people.

“There is no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots in any age group or any gender in any country,” according to AstraZeneca.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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