WHO urges continued use of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The World Health Organization renews a call for countries to continue the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, shortly before expected assessments by EU and UN agencies.

The call comes as several European countries have halted the use of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company’s vaccine over reports of blood clots related to the vaccine.

The WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS)– created in 1999 to address safety issues related to vaccines of potential global importance — is due to publish the conclusions of its assessment of the safety of AstraZeneca’s vaccin.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also expected to announce its decision on the continued use of the vaccine.

But as of now, “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh its risks and its use should continue, to save lives,” the WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge tells a press conference.

“In vaccination campaigns, it is routine to signal potential adverse events. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to the vaccination,” Kluge says, repeating calls from the WHO to continue the use of the vaccine while the issue is investigated.

“As of now, we do not know whether some or all of the conditions have been caused by the vaccine or by other coincidental factors. WHO is assessing the latest safety data, and once completed, the findings will be made public,” Kluge says.

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