EU drug regulator says blood clots may be potential rare side effect of AstraZeneca vaccine which many African leaders have already received

The European Union’s drug regulator said Wednesday that while the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective, there is a potential link between the vaccine and a rare blood clotting disorder.

“The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the executive director for the European Medicines Agency.

Despite these potential rare side effects, Cooke asserted that people should still get the vaccine, saying, “The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects. I think it’s important that we give the message that vaccines will help us in the fight against COVID and we need to continue to use these vaccines.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been distributed to over 100 countries under the World Health Organization’s ongoing COVAX initiative. It is the primary vaccine being distributed across Africa and many notable African leaders have publicly received the vaccine, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

As most African Presidents have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and many Africans expect to receive the vaccine in the coming months and year, the blood clotting side effect is the latest in a host of questions that have been raised questioning the efficiency and health risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency has explained that evidence regarding blood clotting is still firming up, but the side effect is very rare and should not discourage people from getting the vaccine when given the option.

The agency and many others have explained that the risk of fatality and long-lasting health effects associated with contracting the coronavirus are much worse than the risk of any rare side effects from the vaccine.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry even found that 34% of Covid-19 survivors have some sort of a neurological or psychological condition within six months of their infection.

The most common diagnosis in the study was anxiety, found in 17% of those treated for Covid-19, followed by mood disorders, found in 14% of patients.

As vaccines continue to be rolled out under the COVAX initiative, the facts must all be considered in weighing the dangers of the coronavirus against any potential rare risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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