At least 18 countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal and Indonesia have so far discontinued the use of the vaccine due to possible side effects, including bleeding and blood clots. Denmark and Norway were the first countries to stop using the vaccine.
However, epidemiologists described those countries’ decisions as “baffling.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union drugs regulator recommend that countries continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue,” the organization said in a press release .
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is set to release an investigation report on March 18 on the AstraZeneca vaccine. EMA said 30 people out of the 5 million vaccinated have had blood clotting issues.
“Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons,” the agency said. “The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”
WHO said covid-19 vaccine will not “reduce illness or death from other causes.” Venous thromboembolism, or blood clots in the veins, is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally, WHO reported.
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In the U.S., independent monitors are analyzing data from 32,000 people to determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective. The results are expected in about a month, a top official said.
Once approved, AstraZeneca said it will supply up to 500,000 doses of the vaccine in the U.S.
“We expect data from our US Phase III trial to be available soon, and we plan to file for emergency use authorization shortly thereafter,” AstraZeneca spokeswoman Michele Meixell said.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the country’s agency that oversees vaccine safety changed its opinion about the AstraZeneca vaccine after seven instances of serious clotting were found amongst the 1.6 million+ doses administered.
An array of vaccines has been administered to people around the world since early December 2020. So far, 300 million doses have been dispensed, according to WHO data.
Common vaccines include AstraZeneca, Novavax, Moderna and Pfizer.