The Philippine Food and Drug Authority today ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to cease inoculating Filipinos below the age of 60 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, amid concerns that it may cause blood clots.
Director-General Eric Domingo said in a media briefing that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found rare cases of blood clots among those who have been injected with the vaccine. Most of those who experienced this in Europe were women.
As of today, there are no reports of blood clotting among Filipinos who have received AstraZeneca.
“We asked the Department of Health if they still have remaining AstraZeneca vaccines. Perhaps we should not use it on people below 60 until we get clearer evidence and clearer guidance from the WHO (World Health Organization) and from our experts,” Domingo said.
The country has received almost 530,000 doses of the vaccine from the COVAX facility, almost all of which have already been injected. Domingo said the next shipment will arrive in May, which gives Filipino scientists several weeks to study its possible side effects.
“That will give us time to study the evidence and see if we will release new guidance regarding the use of AstraZeneca vaccine,” Domingo added.
Aside from AstraZeneca, the Philippines has doses of CoronaVac, the China-made vaccine. The country is expecting the delivery of vaccines from other manufacturers, such as the Sputnik V and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The EMA has said that it found a “possible link” between the vaccine and blood clots, but it did not urge European Union members from halting the use of AstraZeneca. As of Sunday, EMA has received 222 reports of blood clotting from all over Europe, where 34 million have been inoculated with the vaccine. However, EMA said that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks and that the side effect should be regarded as “very rare.”
Several countries have decided to restrict the use of the vaccine among people younger than 55 because this group reportedly has a higher chance of developing blood clots. The United Kingdom took it further and disallowed AstraZeneca’s use among people under the age of 30.
Prior to the discovery of the side effect, the vaccine was considered a game-changer, because it can be stored in temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees. Other vaccines, such as those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, need to be stored at temperatures that are colder than Antarctica, making them hard to be sent to countries in the Global South where the appropriate storage technologies do not exist.
If you're gonna share your opinions for free on the Internet, why not do it for a chance to win some exciting prizes? Take our 2021 Coconuts Reader Survey now!