After a temporary suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine across several EU countries due to concerns about rare adverse reactions, many nations plan to restart vaccinations following European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) conclusion that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global HIV/AIDS organization praised the decision following EMA’s due-diligence review of facts as a win for science.
Among 20 million people who have been vaccinated across the UK and the European Economic Area, EMA reviewed 25 reported cases of blood clots of varying severity. According to the agency, these adverse events are rare and the causal link between them and the vaccine has not been confirmed, though EMA suggested the topic should be studied further. By contrast, COVID-19 has been found to cause blood clotting disorders among patients.
“Transparency with respect to COVID-19 vaccine safety is imperative for maintaining public trust in vaccination campaigns across Europe and beyond – we applaud EMA for carefully reviewing clinical data and making an evidence-based decision that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not associated with an increased overall risk of blood clotting disorders,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “At a time when over 9,000 people die of COVID-19 every day, the world needs every single dose that can be produced, especially considering that at the current pace billions of people around the world will not have a chance to access the vaccine for another year or longer. With the EMA decision, the EU should immediately step up its vaccination efforts and provide vaccines to developing countries.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been jointly developed with Oxford University in the UK, is immensely important to the global race to vaccinate the world against COVID-19 due to its affordability at only about $4 per dose, long shelf life of six months, and ease of storage at regular refrigeration temperatures. AstraZeneca is offering its vaccine on at-cost basis to developing countries and is by far the largest supplier of doses to COVAX, an international initiative created to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.