WHO urges countries not to halt using AstraZeneca vaccine amid blood clot fears

With Covid-19 related death toll approaching three million, the world body encourages countries to continue administering AstraZeneca's vaccine.

On Monday, the World Health Organization appealed to countries across the globe not to stop using AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine after it emerged that Ireland, the Netherlands and Indonesia would also be suspending their vaccination programmes using the shot. The countries join Iceland and Bulgaria, which had earlier suspended the vaccine’s use while Austria and Italy have stopped using certain of its batches amid growing safety concerns. Denmark and Norway also reported isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count after administering the same vaccine. Countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom have however, indicated they have no concerns.

The world body indicated that its advisory panel was reviewing reports related to the safety concerns and would release its findings as soon as possible though it was unlikely to change the recommendations it issued in February encouraging widespread use even in countries where the South African variant was reported. “As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was among the first and cheapest to be developed and launched at scale in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.