African countries in dilemma as more countries suspend AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
London, March 12, 2021 (AltAfrica)-The suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine by some European countries is causing credibility problems for many African countries including Nigeria where the vaccine is still been deployed
Three European countries including Denmark, Iceland and Norway have have suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution amid reports of blood clotting in some people who have received it
Nigerian authorities currently rolling out the vaccine like many other African countries have assured residents that there is no cause for alarm regarding the batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine delivered to the country by COVAX
In Ghana, Dr Kingsley Nyarko, Member of Parliament for Kwadaso als urged the people in the area to ignore all the misinformation and fake news circulating on social media about the covid-19 vaccine from COVAX
At least 22 of Africa’s 54 countries have received COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX initiative to ensure that ensures low- and middle-income countries receive vaccines, most of them AstraZeneca
Late-night delivery of 144,000 #COVID19 vaccines in #Benin🇧🇯 thanks to #COVAX partners.— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) March 11, 2021
22 African countries have received almost 14.8 million doses through #COVAX as of yesterday!👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿 pic.twitter.com/CVdbnBxdQv
The Danish health authority said that there was a reported death in the country but that “at present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.”
Use of the vaccine will be suspended until further notice, the health authority said on Thursday, but the decision will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.
Shortly after the Danish announcement, Iceland followed suit. Hours later, the Norwegian health authority also said they too would suspend vaccinations after the report from Denmark.
France and the UK have however ruled out the following suit for now, stressing the suspension in other countries “is a precautionary measure”.
It comes after Austria suspended a batch of the vaccines following the death of a woman due to multiple blood clots and the hospitalisation of another person with a blockage in the arteries of the lungs.
The vaccine batch, which comprised of one million doses, was subsequently suspended in four other EU countries as a precaution.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) gave the assurance in a statement on Thursday by its Head of Public Relations Unit, Mohammad Ohitoto.
While it noted the precautionary concerns raised regarding a specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine – namely ABV5300, it stated that investigations were being conducted to determine if the batch was in any way linked to an observed side effect.
The health agency insisted that Nigeria did not receive any dose from the batch of vaccines in contention, adding that all side effects reported so far in Nigeria had been mild.
The European Medicines Agency said they were reviewing the incidents as well as all other “conditions related to blood clots” but a preliminary review suggested there was no “specific issue” with the batch.
As of Tuesday, the medicines regulator said, there were 22 cases of blood clotting reported among the three million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the European Economic Area.
“We are in the middle of the largest and most important vaccination rollout in Danish history. And right now we need all the vaccines we can get. Therefore, putting one of the vaccines on pause is not an easy decision,” said Søren Brostrøm, Director General of the Danish Health Authority.
“But precisely because we vaccinate so many, we also need to respond with timely care when there is knowledge of possible serious side effects. We need to clarify this before we can continue to use the vaccine from AstraZeneca.”
The change means that people who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark will have to wait before they receive the second dose, the health authority said.
Frontline health staff aged 65 or over will continue to receive vaccination appointments with one of the other two vaccines, they specified.
The authority said they are not opting out of the AstraZeneca vaccine but just putting it on hold.
“There is good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective,” Brostrøm said.
“But both we and the Danish Medicines Agency have to react to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries. It shows that the monitoring system works.”