The World Health Organization continues to believe that the benefits of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risk of rare side effects, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva on Friday.
“Even as we work to expand access to vaccines, we’re continuing to keep a close eye on vaccine safety,” Tedros said.
All vaccines and medicines carry a risk of side effects, he said, adding that:
“In this case, the risks of severe disease and death from Covid-19 are many times higher than the very small risks related to the vaccine.”
Earlier this week European and British medicines regulators announced a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots, with the UK announcing it would offer people under 30 an alternative vaccine. Later on Wednesday, WHO released a statement saying that “a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is considered plausible but is not confirmed.”
Tedros reiterated this point Friday.
“The Covid-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on vaccine safety has reviewed available information from Europe and other regions and has said that a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is plausible, but more investigation is required,” he said.
“WHO, EMA and MHRA continue to recommend that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of this very rare side effect.”