GENEVA: The World Health Organization said on Friday (Mar 12) there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended the roll-out over blood clot fears.
The WHO said its vaccines advisory committee was currently looking at safety data and stressed that no causal link has been established between the vaccine and clotting.
Health authorities in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Italy and Romania postponed or limited the roll-out of AstraZeneca vaccines after isolated reports of recipients developing blood clots.
"AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.
"We've reviewed the data on deaths. There has been no death, to date, proven to have been caused by vaccination," she said.
"Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine," she added, stressing though that "any safety signal must be investigated".
"We must always ensure that we look for any safety signals when we roll out vaccines, and we must review them," she said. "But there is no indication to not use it."
Top German public health officials said AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was safe and Germany would continue to use it.
With Germany still facing a scarcity of vaccines and a third wave of COVID-19, the government is anxious to ensure that vaccine scepticism does not undermine the roll-out on which it is banking to bring the pandemic under control.
"Everything we know so far suggests that the benefits of the vaccine, even after every individual case reported, are greater than the risks, and that continues to be the case," Health Minister Jens Spahn told a news briefing.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, added that there was no statistical evidence of excess mortality after any coronavirus vaccine shot.
"Since we're now vaccinating the old and very old, and most people who die are of course old and very old, then there can be a chronological link between vaccination and death," he said.
"There is no evidence that the link is statistically excessive," Wieler added.