World Health Organisation says AstraZeneca is fine

Monday, March 15

Countries should not stop using AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine over fears it causes blood clots as there is no indication this is true, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

A WHO spokeswoman said there was no link between the jab and an increased risk of developing a clot.

It is an "excellent vaccine" and should continue to be used, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.

The use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been suspended in Ireland as a precaution following concern over blood clots in Norway.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the decision was made on foot of a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

He said that around 30,000 people who were due to get the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, will be having their appointments  deferred.

Around 5 million Europeans have already received the AstraZeneca jab.

There have been about 30 cases in Europe of "thromboembolic events" - or developing blood clots - after the vaccine was administered. There were also reports that a 50-year-old man had died in Italy after developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The WHO is investigating the reports, as it does any safety questions, Ms Harris said but no causal relationship had been established between the shot and the health problems reported, she said.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland said it would not be suspending the use of the vaccine in Northern Ireland.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted that she had sought clarification from the health minister, Robin Swann, about the suspensions in Ireland and elsewhere.

Interim Director of Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency Dr Stephen Bergin said it was something they would "closely monitor".

From our perspective the vaccine is safe and we're continuing to use it.

"We've had good experience over the last three months now, we've had over 600,000 people vaccinated, not all of course with this particular vaccine," he added.

Newsday and Agencies