EU drugs regulator says benefits of AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks

FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, ...
FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

More than 20 million people in the UK and Europe had received the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine by March 16 this year.

And following the uncertainty of the safety of the vaccine, based on 34 reports of blood clots related issues reported by more than a dozen European countries, the region’s drug regulator has confirmed that the benefits still outweigh the risks

In their report on Thursday, March 18, European Medicine Agency cites that; the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots in those who receive it, that there is no evidence of a problem related to specific batches of the vaccine or to particular manufacturing sites.

However, the statement indicates; the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots associated with Thrombocytopenia, that means low levels of blood platelets including rare cases of clots in the vessels draining blood from the brain.

Sabine Strauss – the chairwoman -EMA,Pharmacovigilance risk assessment committee said that a number of Thromboembolic events reported after vaccination were lower than the expected in the general population, leading to the conclusion that there is no increase in the overall risk of blood clots with this vaccine.

Moreover, because the vaccine is effective in preventing the Covid-19 disease, which in itself is a cause of blood clots, it likely reduces the risk of thrombotic events overall

The committee is therefore confirming that there is no increase in overall risk of blood clots. but,there remains some concerns among younger patients, related in particular to these rare cases.

As a precaution, after receiving the Astrazeneca COVID -19 vaccine, if one experiences: breathlessness,pain in the chest or stomach,swelling or coldness on the arm or leg,severe or worsening headache or blurred vision, persistent bleeding,multiple small bruises, reddish or purplish spots, or blood blisters under the skin, the European medicines agency advises that one should seek medical assistance.

As it stands, some European countries are reconsidering resuming the use of the vaccine, including Germany, France, Spain & Italy among others.

In kenya the vaccination campaign entered its third week on Friday with Ministry of Health CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi saying that 28,255 people including healcare workers, teachers and security personnel have been inoculated so far.

Following the increase of the number of Covid-19 infections in the country, the older persons have been put in the priority list of those to be vaccinated, with the ministry of health promising to begin the process once another batch of vaccine arrives in the country in April.

Dr. Mwangangi urged members of the public to be patient- noting the enthusiasm with taking the vaccine- saying Kenya was still administering the first phase of inoculation.

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