GENEVA — The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries on Friday to continue using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, as its benefits outweigh risks with tremendous potential to prevent infections and deaths from the pandemic.
Following the review on the AstraZeneca vaccine by WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), concerning blood clots and low platelets among some people vaccinated, the WHO has concluded that the available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions following administration of the vaccine, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing.
“As a result, the committee has recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks, with tremendous potential for preventing infections and deaths from COVID-19,” Tedros said.
“We urge countries to continue using this important vaccine.”
According to the WHO chief, after six weeks of declining COVID-19 cases in January and February, the world is currently on track for a fourth consecutive week of increasing cases, with the number of deaths still declining but at a slower rate. In a statement on Friday, GACVS said the available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions such as deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism following administration of COVID-19 vaccines. It said that reported rates of thromboembolic events after COVID-19 vaccines are in line with the expected number of diagnoses of these conditions.
Meanwhile, GACVS recommended that countries continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines and promote reporting of suspected adverse events, while further investigation and monitoring for these events should be planned.
The AstraZeneca vaccine accounts for more than 90 percent of all vaccines being distributed through COVAX, an international COVID-19 vaccine campaign co-led by the WHO and its partners.
WHO has been calling for ramping up production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to address the issue of vaccine equity.