Relief for Africa as EU drugs regulator says Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe
London, March 19, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Several days after most EU countries suspended the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot concerns, the bloc’s medicines regulator concluded Thursday the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 and its benefits far outweigh the risks — but it could not eliminate a possible link to a rare type of clot.
This will be a big relief for many African countries that are currently in dilemma and under increasing pressure from their citizens after many European countries, including Germany halted its rollout
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
Almost all 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
Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, said the safety committee PRAC concluded the vaccine is “not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots.”
Executive director at the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cooke says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is "safe and effective" and it is not linked to an increased risk in blood clots.— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 18, 2021
Follow live #COVID19 analysis: https://t.co/H5Vvb2VQM3 pic.twitter.com/dvjwuHmJxn
An analysis of a small number of cases of “rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders” concluded “we still cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine,” she added
In light of this, EMA recommended raising awareness of these possible risks to make sure that they’re included in the product information. It also called for providing information to health care professionals and vaccinated people to help spot and mitigate any possible side effects.
EMA is launching additional investigations to understand more about these rare cases, Cooke added.
It comes after 20 EU countries, starting with Austria, either suspended, entirely or partially, their vaccination program with Oxford/AstraZeneca jab — despite statements from the drugmaker, the EMA and the U.K.’s drugs regulator that stood by the safety of the vaccine with regard to blood clots.
Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg all suspended use of a specific batch of the vaccine. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg halted the entire rollout with the jab.
It will now be down to each country to decide whether to resume vaccinating people with the jab.
Some health experts fear, however, that European capitals’ decision to ignore the EMA’s advice last week — and instead halt the Oxford/AstraZeneca program nationally — will now weaken those countries’ abilities to convince people to accept the jab again.