As countries rollout covid-19 vaccines WHO continues to keep a close eye on their safety. WHO is aware that some countries have suspended the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine based on reports of blood clots in some people who received doses of the vaccine from two batches. This measure was taken as a precaution while a full investigation is finalised.
“It’s important to note that the European medicines agency has said there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and blood clots and that the vaccine can continue to be used while the investigation is ongoing,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“We are talking about two batches that were produced in Europe. We have had lots of requests today to clarify if these batches were used in some countries other outside of Europe, they’re not. These batches are not being used elsewhere”. Said Dr Mariangela Simao “Assistant Director-General WHO”
“We are talking about two batches right now of which I don’t have the information if they come from the same manufacturer, but they are manufactured in Europe”.
“We are checking and investigating if there is a positive relationship or not, some of the countries have suspended just the use of this batch and not the vaccination in some other countries have suspended the vaccination but it’s related to specific batches,” said Dr Simao.
“WHO Global advisory committee on vaccine safety systematically reviews safety signals and is carefully assessing the current reports on the AstraZeneca vaccine. As soon as WHO has gained the full understanding of these events, the findings and any changes to our current recommendations would be communicated immediately from WHO to the public” Said Dr Ghebreyesus
“More than 335 million doses of covid-19 vaccine have been administered globally so far and nothing has been found to have been caused by covid-19 vaccines, but at least 2.6 million people have been killed by the virus and more with continue to die the longer it takes to distribute the vaccine as rapidly and as equitably as possible”.
The access to covid-19 tools accelerator which includes Covax was launched almost a year ago as the international vehicle for the equitable distribution of vaccines. diagnostics and therapeutics. The emergence of new viral variants, the limited supply of vaccines, the lag in` uptake of new diagnostics in oxygen, and the lack of funding to support the distribution of these life-saving tools are a major challenge for the global control of the pandemic.
Today WHO has published it’s new strategy and budget for the accelerator in 2021. So far 11 billion US dollars have been committed to the ACT accelerator, but we still face a funding gap of 22.1 billion US dollars. The longer this gap goes and unmet the harder it is to understand why given it’s a tiny fraction of the more then 13 trillion dollars the IMF estimates that developed economies have spent on fiscal stimulus to date.
“We urge countries to fully finance the ACT accelerator as the best investment in the global recovery”. Said Dr Ghebreyesus
Last week WHO gave the emergency use listing to Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, making it the fourth vaccine to receive WHO’s approval. The emergency use listing is the green light for a vaccine to be procured and rolled out by Covax.
“As you know the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first to be listed as a single dose version, WHO will convene in its strategic advisory group on immunisation experts next week to formulate recommendations on the use of this vaccine”.
“As new vaccines become available, we must ensure they become part of the global solution and not another reason some countries and people are left further behind”.
We hope that this new vaccine will help to narrow vaccine inequalities and not deepen them.
The inequitable distribution of the vaccine remains the biggest threat to ending the pandemic and driving a global recovery.
The pandemic cannot be ended anywhere unless is ended everywhere, the longer the virus circulates the higher the chances that variants will emerge that make vaccines less effective.
Written by Joe Cusmano