No fewer than 18 countries have suspended the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine administration across the world as of Monday, March 15.
The trend has continued in many parts of the world despite the World Health Organisation(WHO) and European regulators expressing confidence in its safety.
The ICIR gathered that there were more blood clot reports among people who received the vaccine in parts of Europe and Oceania.
The countries that have suspended the vaccine are Italy, Iceland, Bulgaria, Thailand, Congo, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, and Latvia.
Austria, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, and France. Germany and France became the world’s largest countries to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following reports of blood clots in people who were vaccinated.
According to AstraZeneca, there had been 15 instances of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and 22 pulmonary embolism events reported among more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and the UK.
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However, AstraZeneca said there was no scientific evidence of any link between its coronavirus vaccine and recent deaths in Europe from blood clots. It further said in a statement that the rate of blood clots in people who had been inoculated with the vaccine was “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population.”
The death of a recipient of the vaccine was reported in Austria, which was among the first countries to halt the vaccine’s use. In rapid succession, other countries followed suit, pointing to blood clot instances potentially linked to batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently being administered to Nigerians after 3.94 million doses, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), arrived in Nigeria on March 2, 2021. The Nigerian government acquired the vaccine through the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Despite the suspension of the vaccine in some countries due to severe side effects that have led to fatalities, the Nigerian government, on March 12, insisted on going ahead with the administration of the vaccine in the country.
A statement released by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), on behalf of the federal government, said the doses of the vaccine received by Nigeria were not part of ABV5300, a specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine suspected to be linked to the alleged adverse side effects.
The NPHCDA acknowledged the existence of side effects on Nigerians who had been vaccinated. However, it said the effects were mild.
According to an earlier report, Bola Oyefolu, a virology professor at the Lagos State University (LASU), warned against continuing with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.
Oyefolu stressed that AstraZeneca and other developed vaccines for COVID-19 disease would fail because they were produced without adequate information and knowledge about the virus responsible for the condition.
The virologist further told The ICIR that the federal government would not continue to give the vaccine to Nigerians if it loved its citizens.
He said, “If all facts are on the table, and if the government loves the citizens, and you know that several other countries are rescinding the decision to take the vaccine, if the government is sincere and loves the people and also knows that the economy of the country depends on the health of the people, I think the government should rescind that decision to administer the vaccine on Nigerians. They should not allow it.
“If you kill all your people or you make your people diseased, I do not know the country we are going to be in.”
Innocent Ujah, president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), a professor of medicine, suggested that the Nigerian government should get complete information concerning the vaccine’s side effects.
“I do not have full information (about the side effects). I need to study why those countries are stopping the vaccine. We need to know the side effects and have full information on the situation,” the NMA president said in an interview with The ICIR.
At least two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have distributed by the NPHCDA across different states in the country.