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India On Concern Over AstraZeneca Shots

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On Friday, the WHO said there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca shot.

New Delhi:

India is looking at all “serious” post-vaccination side effects as it carries out the world’s largest coronavirus immunisation drive, a top medical expert said today amid suspension of AstraZeneca shots in at least four nations over risk of blood clots. India is constantly reviewing “adverse events” for both Covishield and Covaxin, the expert added.

Covishield has been developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, world’s largest vaccine maker, in partnership with the Oxford University and Swedish-British firm Astrazeneca. Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. Both the vaccines were cleared in January by the India’s drug regulator DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) for emergency use.

“We are not looking at any particular vaccine at the moment. When the analysis is available then it will be reported, according to the vaccine, if there is any concern,” said Dr NK Arora, Executive Director, INCLEN and Heading Operations Research Group, a part of the National Task Force set up by top medical body – ICMR.

“We are closely looking at all AEFIs (Adverse event following immunization) .. . for both vaccines – Covaxin and Covishied,” he stressed.

There are two types of AEFIs – mild and serious, Mr Arora explained. 

“Serious post-vaccination side effects include two categories – hospital admission and deaths. We are looking at serious adverse events,” he said.

Speaking to NDTV, Dr Rajinder K Dhamija, Professor, Neurology, Lady Hardinge College, who is also a member of an AEFI committee, earlier this morning said, “There are strict safety monitoring protocols in place for India’s vaccine drive – there are district level, state-level and national-level committees. So far, we’ve not come across any major side effects. Thirty cases, which have been reported across the world, we don’t have proper details. This is not a matter of concern right now.” Dr Dhamija suggested other factors also need to be considered. 

On Friday, the World Health Organization said there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine after several countries suspended the rollout over blood clot fears and as the European Union added severe allergies to the list of possible side effects. “AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva, news agency AFP reported. 

“Yes, we should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she added.

“An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country” from the jab, AstraZeneca insisted on Friday.

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