The Head of World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Health officials from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are set to meet this week on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after several more countries suspended its use.
Speaking to journalists, WHO chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that WHO Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety has been reviewing available data on the vaccine and will meet with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) this week.
The decision follows action by more countries to have the rollout of the vaccine suspended following health reports of blood clots in people that received the vaccine.
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Latvia have become the latest countries to temporarily halt the use of the shot.
The use of the vaccine was also suspended in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on grounds that some of the people who received it developed blood clots while others died.
The latest suspensions add on to the initial countries which include Africa’s Malawi and South Africa, Austria, Canada, South Korea and Indonesia
“This does not necessarily mean these events are linked to vaccination, but its routine practice to investigate them, and it shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place”, Tedros said.
Dr Mariângela Simão, the WHO Assistant Secretary-General, said the agency is working very closely with the medicines agency and with national regulatory authorities across the globe in assessing the adverse effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine and all other vaccines.
“WHO has not received reports about ‘thrombo-embolic events’ in other parts of the world,” she added.
Tedros however, stressed that the greatest threat most countries face now is lack of access to vaccines, saying he receives calls from leaders worldwide “almost every day” asking when their nations will receive doses through the COVAX initiative.
Meanwhile, Dr Alfred Driwale, the program manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization-UNEPI, announced yesterday that Uganda will not halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying no severe effects have been reported so far.
“We have not received any complaints of severe reactions here among people who got the vaccine. The vaccine is safe and can protect against severe disease or death,” Driwale said.
According to the Health Ministry, the AstraZeneca vaccine provides immunity against severe forms of the disease or even death by over 70 percent.
Dr Driwale adds that AstraZeneca vaccine provides immunity against severe forms of the disease citing that the vaccine is the safest option to avoid death at the moment