December 6, 2022

WHO says benefits of AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks, recommends vaccinations continue

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommended that vaccinations continue after several European countries suspended its use.

On Tuesday, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine distribution was put on pause by Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain after numerous reported deaths by people who received the vaccine. Now, the rest of the European Union is following suit

This past weekend, AstraZeneca announced that it was reviewing the data on the 17 million people who received doses and found that 37 cases of people developed blood clots. They said that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any downfalls, and that possible side effects will occur with any vaccine.- Advertisement –

AstraZeneca vaccine is one of four vaccines authorized for use, but the escalating concerns, and reports of deaths, have led to the suspension “as a precautionary measure,” said Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, in a statement. 

AstraZeneca said that their findings show “no evidence of an increased risk for any group or gender.” Some experts, including those at the European Medicines Agency, disagreed with AstraZeneca’s public reports, saying that rare cases of blood clots, or cerebral vein thrombosis, are higher in younger people, mostly women, but will be working with AstraZeneca on how to proceed.

On Wednesday, the WHO said the vaccine remained safe and recommended that countries continue to use it.

“Some countries in the European Union have temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure based on reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in persons who had received the vaccine. Other countries in the EU – having considered the same information – have decided to continue using the vaccine in their immunization programs,” the WHO said in a statement.

“Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally. 

“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place. 

“WHO is in regular contact with the European Medicines Agency and regulators around the world for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine safety. The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is carefully assessing the latest available safety data for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Once that review is completed, WHO will immediately communicate the findings to the public.

“At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue.”

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