AstraZeneca faces mounting bans

Kandjemuni Kamuiiri and Rose-Mary Haufiku

Controversy continues to dog the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as several European countries suspending the use of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Despite Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, remaining adamant that Government will go ahead with the procurement of the controversial vaccine through the COVAX facility.

European media have been carrying reports that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused thromboembolic events or blood clots among some individuals who received the jab.

Three of 17 European countries that have received the AstraZeneca vaccine (Denmark, Norway and Iceland) have, as a precautionary measure, stopped administering the vaccine while Italy, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania have completely banned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Austria stopped the use of one particular batch of the AstraZeneca jabs after two incidents, one a death, while in Denmark severe cases of blood clots in people who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were reported.

“Against this background, the European Medicines Agency has launched an investigation into the AstraZeneca vaccine….At present, it cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots,” the Danish Health Authority stated.

According to the European Medicines Agency, 30 cases of “thromboembolic events” or blood clots had been reported among five million who received the dose.

The reports come as the vaccine, meant to cure COVID-19, also being recently suspended from distribution by the South African government with efforts made to send it back to the manufacturer, after studies found the vaccine to be ineffective.

Shangula was adamant that the AstraZeneca vaccine works, and downplayed reports about its ineffectiveness. “Those were the preliminary findings. It was a small, small sample, so you cannot use information from that small sample to make a policy decision. It works,” he said.

Namibia has thus far spent over N$28 million for the vaccine. The total proposed budget for Namibia’s Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccines is N$583 068 783.84, of which N$484 800 000 is for actual procurement of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

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