India sticks to AstraZeneca vaccine ‘head on’ | News on the coronavirus pandemic
A government expert said India’s health ministry was aware of the potential blood clot problem, but had “ no concerns at all. ”
India is not concerned that some countries in the European Union will suspend the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and will continue to roll out the vaccine in its huge vaccination schedule “with all vigor,” a senior official said.
AstraZeneca images are produced by the Indian Serum Institute and known in the country as Covishield. The vaccine represents most of the 35 million coronavirus vaccines administered in the country so far.
But European countries, including France, Spain and Germany, have suspended use of the vaccine over fears that it will cause blood clots.
This is despite the World Health Organization claiming the vaccine to be safe and the EU medicines regulator “strongly convinced” that the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects.
Vinod K Paul, member of Indian government advisory body NITI Aayog, said Wednesday that Indian authorities were reviewing the data but there was no suggestion of a “causal relationship” between the vaccine and the blood clots.
“(I) assure you again that we have no signs of concern in this regard and therefore clearly our program (with the vaccine) … will continue with all its vigor,” Paul told reporters.
India “was monitoring information made available by other sources, but today there is no concern,” he said.
The Serum Institute – the world’s largest vaccine producer – has already supplied tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to dozens of mostly poorer countries around the world.
‘Stop the second peak’
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday ordered to step up surveillance and testing to stop the emergence of a second spike in coronavirus infections.
In a virtual conference with Indian state leaders, Modi warned the country was at risk of a nationwide epidemic if authorities did not reduce localized surges.
“If we don’t stop this growing pandemic now, then we can face a nationwide epidemic situation. The second peak of coronavirus cases that is currently forming will have to be stopped immediately. And for that to happen, we need to take swift and decisive action, ”he said.
India reported 35,871 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the highest in more than three months, with the worst-affected state of Maharashtra alone accounting for 65% of that number.
The total number of infections has now risen to 11.47 million, the highest after the United States and Brazil. Deaths increased from 172 to 159,216, according to data from the Department of Health.