The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on countries to continue using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, as concerns mount over its possible side effects.

All this comes as the number of countries halting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is getting longer, with Spain, Portugal, Germany, France and Italy announced in a period of 24 hours that they too would be suspending their rollouts.

This is over reports of a number of people across Europe suffering blood clots, and in some instances dying after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca,” the global health body’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said during a media briefing on Monday, 15 March 2021.

Swaminathan has emphasis that there is no correlation between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the blood clots.

“So far, we do not find an association between these events and the vaccine,” she said.

“The question is the linkage with the data. This is why we need to look at the data. The experts are looking at the data and so far we do not find an association between these events and the vaccine because the rates at which these events have occurred within a vaccinated group are in fact less than what you would expect in a general population at the same time”

The European Medicines Agency had said on Monday, 15 March 2021,  that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks and that data did not indicate people were more likely to have blood clots after receiving the jab.

 South Africa had also received the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the government halted its use after a study found that it would be essentially be ineffective against the dominant variant of the virus.

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Presh JM Reporter

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