The UN health agency is aligning itself with the EU regulator in saying the benefits of the coup outweigh the risks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine, once again stressing that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
“COVID-19 is a deadly disease and the AstraZeneca vaccine can prevent it,” United Nations agency director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at an online press briefing on Friday.
His comments came after the WHO vaccine safety group virtually met on Tuesday and Friday to review all available data to address concerns about possible side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The group’s findings were aligned with those of the European Medical Agency (EMA), held on Thursday at a “Solid scientific conclusion” reiterating that the vaccine was “safe and effective” and that it did not indicate an overall increase in coagulation conditions.
The EMA and WHO investigations came after several countries stopped using the Anglo-Swedish vaccine due to limited reports of blood clots in some of its recipients.
Following the EMA announcement, several countries, including Germany, Italy and Spain, resumed the use of the scrutinized jab. France has also relaunched the vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca injections but recommended the use of the vaccine only for people over 55 years old.
In neighboring UK, a former member of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.
“It was very good and very fast,” he said after receiving the vaccine at a London hospital. “I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden, have decided to continue to suspend use of the vaccine pending further analysis.
Decisions by more than a dozen countries to temporarily halt vaccine deployment have dealt another blow to the slowness of the EU inoculation campaign.
AstraZeneca said last week that it intends to deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine to the EU by the end of June, instead of the 300 million provided for in the EU contract, citing production problems and restrictions for export.
There are also fears that the short suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine could undermine people’s confidence in vaccination at a time when infections in Europe are on the rise for their fourth consecutive week.
“Of course there will be concerns,” WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said on Friday. But “I hope that the world population will have more confidence that these vaccines are properly controlled.”