WHO Covid-19 jab experts want more AstraZeneca blood clot data from outside Europe

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GENEVA (AFP) – The World Health Organisation’s vaccine advisers called Thursday (April 22) for more data on the incidence of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outside Europe.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (Sage) on Immunisation updated their guidance on the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus jab, rewriting the section on precautions in light of data from Europe on clotting.

“WHO continues to support the conclusion that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risks,” the UN agency stressed in a statement.

On April 7, Sage said a link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 jabs and blood clots was plausible but unconfirmed, underlining that reported occurrences were “very rare”.

In light of evidence emerging from ongoing vaccination programmes, they have updated their recommendations on the AstraZeneca jab, which is being deployed in 157 territories according to an AFP count.

Sage said most clotting cases were reported in Britain and the European Union, with very few cases noted in other countries.

They said it was unknown whether there was a risk of clotting from the second dose of the vaccine, while recommending that those who suffered blood clots after their first injection should not be given the second dose of the two-shot vaccine.

‘Very rare syndrome’

“A very rare syndrome of blood clotting combined with low platelet counts, described as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), has been reported around four to 20 days following vaccination,” the new guidance says.

“A causal relationship between the vaccine and TTS is considered plausible although the biological mechanism for this syndrome is still being investigated.

“Most of these cases were reported from the UK and the EU. There is considerable geographic variation with regards to the reported incidence, with very few cases reported from non-European countries, despite extensive use of the vaccine.

“An estimation of the risk outside Europe needs further data collection and analysis.” The vaccine currently forms the backbone of the Covax scheme, which ensures that poorer countries can access doses, with donors covering the cost.

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