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Philippines to continue AstraZeneca vaccination amid blood clot reports in Europe

The Philippines will continue using AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine as there is currently no indication that it caused the blood clots reported in some European countries, health and regulatory officials said Friday.

The Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said countries like Denmark and Norway only halted their AstraZeneca rollout as a precautionary measure while they probe the blood clots that followed vaccination.

Citing the European Medicine Authority (EMA), the two agencies underscored that the AstraZeneca jab’s “benefits continue to outweigh its risks.”

“At present, the DOH and FDA emphasize that there is no indication for the Philippines to stop rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines,” they said in a statement.

“The public is assured they will closely monitor all deployed vaccines.”

Austria has also suspended a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after one person died and another fell ill after receiving the shot. 

The EMA has since clarified that there is no sign indicating that the vaccine was responsible for the death

The Philippines has so far received 525,600 AstraZeneca doses from the COVAX Facility, a global initiative for equitable vaccine distribution. 

The AstraZeneca vaccines were rolled out over the weekend

‘Serious adverse events following immunization

Also on Friday, the DOH said 21 serious adverse events following immunization (AEFI) have been recorded as of March 9.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 20 of these patients received the Sinovac jab while one got the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Others had difficulty breathing, others had chest pain. These are considered serious and we are studying what caused them,” Vergeire said in Filipino at a virtual briefing.

Vergeire said the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee suspected that some of the adverse events were caused by anxiety or fear of vaccination.

Experts are conducting further studies to determine which AEFIs were triggered by the COVID-19 vaccines. — RSJ, GMA News