The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday clarified that there was no reason to stop giving people AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. WHO's reaction came after several European countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine over fear of blood clots after receiving the shot.
"Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine," news agency AFP quoted WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris as saying "There is no indication to not use it."
Several European countries such as Denmark, Norway and Iceland have temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clot formation in some people who had received the vaccine surfaced. Bulgaria suspended the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 12, becoming the latest country to do so.
"I order a halt in vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine until the European Medicines Agency dismisses all doubts about its safety," a state press service statement quoted Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as saying.
Earlier, Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine doses while authorities investigate a death caused by coagulation disorders and an illness caused by pulmonary embolism. Concerns regarding AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine have also reached Asia as Thailand on Friday announced that it has delayed use of the jab.
Aside from the WHO, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also backed the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, the agency said that the benefits of taking the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.
AstraZeneca in a statement had said that it had not discovered any evidence of increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in its safety data which comprises of more than 10 million records.
The suspension of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine threatens to derail Europe's vaccine rollout campaign which is already trailing behind the US and the UK. This could potentially prolong the social and economic pain being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspensions follow complaints from European countries that AstraZeneca was not delivering enough doses. There were also age restriction put on the vaccine in January that was later removed, allowing all adults to receive the vaccine.
Currently, France and Germany, who had helped spearhead the age restrictions on the vaccine, are among the biggest supporters of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.