International Desk, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Growing doubts about AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine have threatened the inoculation drives in the Americas, especially in countries with a small portfolio of jabs and dependent on doses from the Anglo-Swedish pharma company.
On Monday, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain decided to suspend the vaccine distribution developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The decision came after detecting several thrombosis cases and the death of a Norwegian health worker, hospitalized after receiving the first dose.
Countries that have suspended the distribution have left the final decision to the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) findings to be published on Mar.18.
Meanwhile, Honduras started the second day of vaccination on Monday with 48,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Nicaragua, and some territories on the Caribbean islands also continue to administer the vaccine doses or are waiting to receive them.
There are many countries where there is no “option to pause vaccination as European countries can,” Johnathan García Ruiz, a public health expert at Colombia’s Universidad de Los Andes, told EFE.
The countries include those who depend on the Covax mechanism, a World Health Organization (WHO)-led effort to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Nearly all of the 337 million doses the WHO intends to distribute in the first phase of the global collaboration are from AstraZeneca.
In Central America alone, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras have already received the first shipments from AstraZeneca through Covax.
All of El Salvador’s vaccines so far are from the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company, from which it received an additional 33,600 doses last week under the Covax initiative.
Nicaragua expects to receive 135,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, also under the Covax initiative.
The lack of the privilege of having a wide range of doses from other companies makes suspicions about AstraZeneca a threat to immunization across these countries.
Garcia warned that the growing distrust could force citizens to prefer not to get vaccinated.
AstraZeneca has said that a review of the safety data of more than 17 million people who received its vaccine in the European Union and the United Kingdom “has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia.”
The WHO also supports the view and has urged people not to panic and continue to use the vaccine.
Latin American leaders have also made a call for calm.
Many Latin American countries have also signed contracts with the company.
Brazil has already confirmed the purchase of 224.4 million doses, Colombia has acquired 10 million, and Mexico 79.4 million with a commitment to producing the vaccine in the country.
A long list also includes Peru (14 million), the Dominican Republic (10 million, plus 110,000 manufactured by India), Nicaragua (200,000), Ecuador (5 million), Costa Rica (1 million), Argentina (23.5 million).