Bangkok, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- The Philippines suspended Thursday the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for those under 60 after a report that links it to the appearance of blood clots.
The Philippine Department of Health said it is adopting the Food and Drug Administration recommendation to temporarily halt use of the product for prevention until more conclusive information is available.
“I want to emphasize that this temporary suspension does not mean that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective, it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all Filipinos,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said in a statement.
The Philippines has received an initial shipment of 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines – almost all already supplied – through the COVAX facility, the second brand of vaccines delivered to the country after receiving 2 million doses from China’s Sinovac.
“We are aware of the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to include blood clots as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Domingo said. “Although we have not seen such incidents in the country, we temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine in children under 60 while we await the results of the review carried out by our local experts, as well as the official guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO).”
Domingo said the EMA recorded “very, very rare” cases of blood clots in every 200 million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca, the majority in women under 60.
Until Thursday, AstraZeneca was the only vaccine in the Philippines that could be administered to people over 60, but given the supply limitation, authorities decided Wednesday to allow the use of Sinovac for that age group, although its effectiveness has not been proven.
Among the countries most affected by the pandemic in Asia, the Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people, two-thirds of its population, this year to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus, although so far it has only applied 923,000 doses to health personnel and elderly.
The Philippines is now at its most serious peak since the start of the pandemic, with 828,366 positives, of which 167,279 (more than 20 percent) are active cases at this time, a record since the health crisis began. EFE-EPA