AstraZeneca vaccine rollout continues in Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines

Vietnam will continue its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout despite the news regarding blood clot risk because it has not yet recorded any case of blood clots as reported in some countries, a health official says.

Over the last five days, a total of 1,600 medical staff and frontline workers in nine localities have received the first dose of the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company in collaboration with Oxford University.

Professor Dang Duc Anh, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and head of the national Expanded Program on Immunization said

“There has not been a single case of blood clot reported so far following the administration, Vietnam is still implementing the AstraZeneca vaccination campaign as planned and continues to monitor post-administration reactions,”

Nine European nations including Denmark, Iceland and Norway have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of severe cases of blood clots in people who have been injected with it, the AFP has reported.Thailand also followed the move on Wednesday, delaying its rollout program.

However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.K.’s regulatory body have said that there is no indication that vaccination is linked to thromboembolic events.

The EMA said the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.

As of 10 March, 30 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the five million people given the AstraZeneca vaccine in the European Economic Area.

According to VNExpress, in Vietnam, six of nearly 1,600 people who got the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine suffered from anaphylaxis and all are in stable conditions. Some others displayed expected symptoms like muscle pain, fatigue, fever, headache, chill, pain at the injection spot, and nausea.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin receives the country’s first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Putrajaya on 24 Feb. Photo: © Malaysian Information Department/Muzzafar Kasim via Reuters

On the same day, Malaysia is confident with the careful consideration conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) which has given conditional approval for the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in the country.

According to the New Straits Times, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the government has received conditional approval by the NPRA to acquire the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm with Oxford University.

Dr Adham said the ministry took note on the report published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on March 11 over the cases in Denmark.
He said there was no indication that the vaccine caused these conditions, which are not listed as the vaccine’s side effects.

The EMA, in a statement said that the agency is aware of the decision by the Danish Health Authority to pause the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in its vaccination campaign and a precautionary measure pending full investigation into reports of blood clots in people after receiving the jab, including one case in Denmark where a person died.

“The position of EMA’s safety committee PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee) is that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.

“PRAC is already reviewing all cases of thromboembolic events, and other conditions related to blood clots, reported post-vaccination with Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

“The number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than the number seen in the general population.

“As of 10 March, 30 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among close to five million people vaccinated with Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area,” the agency said, adding that it would further communicate as the assessment progresses.

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s epidemiology and biostatistics expert, Associate Professor Dr Malina Osman, said it would be relatively too early to make any conclusion on the use of the available Covid-19 vaccines at this time.

“I believe NPRA will scrutinise all related safety issues on this vaccine further.

“As the vaccine will be available in two or three months time, perhaps during the time when the vaccine has already become available, we will have more data and information.

“To conclude at this time, I think will be relatively too early,”

“Even though there is no clear indication that the event can be linked to the vaccine, the NPRA will continue to monitor the safety of the Covid-19 Vaccine.

“Further update on the outcome of the EMA assessment will be communicated and regulatory action will be taken if necessary.”

The ministry’ Pharmaceutical Services Programme said in a statement although the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca has been granted conditional registration by the Drug Control Authority (DCA) Malaysia, it is not yet available for use in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Program.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine delivered to the Philippines through COVAX on 6 March 2021. Photo: Sweden Embassy in Manila

Health authorities in the Philippines, however, also saw no reason to halt the usage of the vaccine. Australia would also continue with the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had on March 2 announced that the DCA had granted conditional approval to three Covid-19 vaccine products, including the one developed by AstraZeneca, to be used in the country.

On 12 March 2021 the Philippines health officials released in a press release that there is no reason to halt the vaccination.

Source: VNExpress / The Straits Times / DOH.GOV.PH

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