The benefits associated with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine outweigh the risks, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded on Friday, confirming the verdict rendered the day before by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“The AstraZeneca vaccine (…) continues to have a positive benefit-risk profile, with enormous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths worldwide,” said the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS ) of the WHO, in a press release.
GACVS experts met online March 16-19 to review the information and data available “on thromboembolic (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) events following vaccination with AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 “.
After reviewing clinical trial data and vaccine safety reports based on data from Europe, UK, India and Vigibase, a WHO global database, they concluded that “the available data do not suggest an overall increase in bleeding disorders (…) after administration of the Covid-19 vaccines”.
“Reported rates of thromboembolic events after administration of Covid-19 vaccines are in line with expected numbers,” they write.
Although very rare thromboembolic events combined with thrombocytopenia, such as a specific form of cerebral venous thrombosis, have been reported after use of AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe “it is not certain whether they were caused by vaccination “, they continue.
The WHO experts’ opinion follows that of the EMA which on Thursday estimated that AstraZeneca’s vaccine against Covid-19, suspended for a time by several EU countries, was “safe and effective” .
The WHO itself renewed its call on Thursday to continue using the vaccine, pending the advice of its experts.
The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety was established in 1999 to address the safety concerns posed by vaccines that may be of global importance. It provides independent advice on vaccine safety issues that may be of global importance and have short- and longer-term implications for national immunization programs.
Like the EMA, GACVS experts on Friday demanded that adequate information be provided to health workers and vaccinated people so that they can recognize the signs and symptoms of any serious adverse reactions that could occur after vaccination against Covid-19, so that people can, if necessary, quickly receive appropriate medical care and treatment.
They also recommend that countries continue to monitor the safety of all anti-Covid vaccines and report side effects.