The Union Health Ministry has asked states and UTs (Union Territories) to closely monitor adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) at block and state levels. In a meeting with state-level monitoring committees on Tuesday, March 17, the ministry asked the states to do it for both Covaxin and Covishield vaccines.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the national level monitoring committee on adverse events is underway.
The development comes after several countries in Europe have suspended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, following reports of possible side-effects comprising incidents of blood clots in people who have been administered the shot.
Meanwhile, Sweden on Tuesday became the latest European nation to suspend the rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine, following moves by Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, and the Netherlands among others.
Over 10 European nations have suspended or limited vaccinations. National governments nonetheless have taken pre-emptive steps.
Several countries, including the UK, have also defended their use of the jab, saying that they will continue with their respective vaccination drives.
Austria was first to halt the use of a single batch of ABV 5300 on March 7 after a person under the age of 50 was reported to have died from blood clots after getting inoculated. Iceland, Denmark, and Norway followed suit by suspending AstraZeneca inoculations altogether last week following the so-called thromboembolic events.
Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands halted the use of shot on March 15, and Portugal suspended further use of the jab on March 16. In Asia, Thailand on March 12 became the first Asian nation to halt the use of the vaccine over safety concerns, right after Denmark announced a two-week recess for its countrywide rollout.
Although no links are found to be proven between the vaccine and the events, experts have cautioned that the suspension of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine may impair already feeble public confidence in the vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that there was no proof so far that serious adverse events, particularly at least five deaths, were caused by the vaccine.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has articulated that it has concluded an assessment reviewing how safe its coronavirus vaccine is, basis data covering encompassing 17 million people who have been inoculated in the UK and the EU.
"A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and the UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the company said in a statement.
"In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population," it added.