Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines safe, not linked to blood clots

- WHO, European health authority says

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There is no reason to discontinue the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Authority (EMA), as no link between the emergence of blood clots in patients and the vaccine has been found.

Earlier this week, it was reported that some of the Nordic countries- including Denmark, Norway and Iceland- suspended the use of the vaccine in response to reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who have received it. It was reported that there had been 30 cases of “thromboembolic events” among the five million Europeans who have received the jab.

On Thursday, however, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said, “There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.

“The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”

Later, on Friday, WHO Spokesperson Margaret Harris said that the WHO expert advisory committee on vaccine safety was reviewing the reports of the blood clots and would later issue a report on the findings of the review.

She, however, highlighted that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is an “excellent vaccine”. She also noted that no causal relationship had been established between it and the health problems (blood clots) reported.

“It’s very important to understand that, yes, we should continue to be using the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.

This vaccine has been used in Guyana, since February, to vaccinate frontline health workers. This week, elderly persons over the age of 60 started to receive their vaccines following Guyana’s receipt of 20,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China and 80,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from India.

On Friday, during his daily update with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said that the Health Ministry is not concerned over the reports of the blood clots since further investigations showed that the health issues were unrelated to the vaccination.

“Since there is no link, there is no reason to be concerned about it,” Dr. Anthony said.

He also noted that research on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, and on the Sinopharm vaccines, has not recorded any adverse events. Locally, he assured that there have been no adverse reactions to the vaccines, following the inoculation of health workers and the elderly. Only the usual side-effects such as headaches, fevers, and soreness were recorded, he said, but these disappeared within 24 hours.

Nevertheless, he said that a ‘vigilance committee’ has been set up to monitor Guyana’s vaccination rollout for adverse reactions to the vaccines. If such reactions are recorded, he emphasised that Guyana is obligated to report it to the international authorities.

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