REPORTS OF RARE BLOOD CLOTS

WHO gives verdict on Astrazeneca vaccine

Recommends that the jab should continue because the benefits outweigh any possible harms.

In Summary

• Specialised studies are needed to fully understand the potential relationship between vaccination and possible risk factors, the committee said.

• Almost 200 million individuals have received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine around the world, including 400,000 in Kenya.

Abigail Owilla, a nurse administers Covid-19 vaccine jab to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoretti on March 9, 2021.
Abigail Owilla, a nurse administers Covid-19 vaccine jab to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoretti on March 9, 2021.
Image: File

Experts from the World Health Organization have given their verdict on the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of rare blood clots.

The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots is reasonable but is not confirmed.

Specialised studies are needed to fully understand the potential relationship between vaccination and possible risk factors, the committee said.

As such, the WHO recommended that vaccination with AstraZeneca should continue because the benefits outweigh any possible harms.

“In this context, it should be noted that as of today, at least 2.6 million people have died of Covid-19 disease worldwide,” it said.

“Vaccines, like all medicines, can have side effects. The administration of vaccines is based on a risk versus benefit analysis.”

The verdict comes after the subcommittee reviewed the latest information from the European Medicines Agency along with information from the United Kingdom’s Medicines, Health products Regulatory Agency and other member states.

Almost 200 million individuals have received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine around the world, including 400,000 in Kenya.

Less than 10 deaths of those who received the vaccine have been reported.

In Kenya, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board says that 279 people reported suffering adverse effects after taking the vaccine.

No death has been reported.

“All reported serious adverse effects following immunisation are under investigations and none of them has resulted in fatal outcomes,” deputy director of the PPB Peter Ikamati said in a statement.

“Out of the 279 reported cases, 272 were mild and resolved within a short period.”

WHO said side effects within two or three days following vaccination, the majority of which are mild and local in nature, are expected and common.

However, individuals who experience any severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain should seek medical attention.

Others are neurological symptoms, such as severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision, tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection from around four to 20 days following vaccination.

WHO subcommittee also suggested that a committee of clinical experts including haematologists and other specialists is convened, for advice on clinical diagnosis and case management.

The organization said it is carefully monitoring the rollout of all Covid-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks and to use science and data to drive response and recommendations.

“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is normal for countries to identify potential adverse events following immunization,” it said in a statement.

“This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to the vaccination itself, but they must be investigated to ensure that any safety concerns are addressed quickly.”

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris