PAHO: Keep using AstraZeneca vaccine

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has recommended continuing vaccination programmes, while investigations continue in Europe into the AstraZeneca vaccine and reports of rare blood clots associated with it.

Dr Sylvain Aldighieri, incident director for covid19, said during a webinar on Wednesday that in extensive vaccination campaigns it is normal for countries to report adverse events, but they may not be necessarily related to the vaccinations.

Aldighieri responded to a Newsday question about European Medicines Agency (EMA) notices concluding that unusual blood clots "should be listed as a rare side effect" of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Aldighieri said: “Only 62 rare cases of thrombosis were recorded, out of 30 million doses administered across Europe. The EMA ensures that the benefits of vaccines remain positive, so it recommends that vaccination be maintained, as well as research on adverse events."

He said world regulatory authorities are in continuous contact about the available safety data on vaccinations.

This week PAHO reported 1.3 million new cases and more than 37,000 deaths.

In the Caribbean, in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, cases have decreased. In South America the situation is worrying, with twice the number of cases.

Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, said owing to global limitations on the manufacture of vaccines, it has been difficult for the Americas to access large numbers of vaccines.

Dr Carissa Etienne -

She said: "We are going to have to mobilise our production facilities and move forward on this front, obtain equity in vaccines and be able to distribute them in all countries."

More than 200 million doses have been distributed in 49 countries in the region.

Etienne said 300,000 vaccines are arriving this week in various Caribbean countries through the Covax mechanism.

Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, said it is currently working with the manufacturers to confirm the dates, payment amounts and all the requirements for the second distribution of vaccines by Covax.

"The idea is to reach May with the confirmation of 2.2 percent of vaccines assigned by Covax for each country."

Etienne reflected on the need for an urgent change in systems in connection with World Health Day, April 7.

She acknowledged financial pressure plays a role against the fight against the pandemic, but the population must continue sanitary measures to control the spread of the virus.


"PAHO: Keep using AstraZeneca vaccine"

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