The African Union has enjoined African countries to continue to roll out the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The call came amidst skepticism on the safety of the vaccine; at least 12 European countries have stopped using it citing blood clot and other side effects
Briefing newsmen on Thursday, the Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, said after serious discussions and review of the evidence reported, Africa CDC concluded that the “benefits accruing from the AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh any risks.”
He said, “I encourage countries to continue with their vaccination campaigns and not to pause, as we are in a race against time.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) had on Wednesday, March 17, also said the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks and recommended that vaccinations continues.
The European Union’s drug regulator, European Medicines Agency (EMA), had also in its findings released on Thursday, said the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was safe.
The organization conducted investigation into the incidents of blood clotting that occurred among a handful of Oxford/AstraZeneca recipients in Europe.
Countries that halted use of the COVID-19 vaccine include Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Latvia and Bulgaria, among others.
In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo had delayed rollout of the vaccine because of the suspensions in Europe.
Meanwhile, the WHO African region office in a statement Thursday, said the suspension is regarding one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been distributed to Africa.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said nearly seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Africa, adding that “Additional supplies are urgently required to narrow the gap between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”