Australia and the Philippines have curtailed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19, while the African Union has abandoned plans to buy the vaccine, further hurting the company’s hopes of delivering doses of its vaccine worldwide.
The vaccine – developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and considered a pioneer in the global battle for vaccines – is receiving “blows” for its safety, as supply problems continue after the results of the third phase of clinical trials were published in December. with Indonesia being the last country to be forced to seek doses from other vaccine manufacturers.
The Philippines has suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 60, after the European Medicines Agency announced on Wednesday that it had found rare cases of blood clots in some adults who received the vaccine, but noted that the benefits of its risks.
Australia has advised people under the age of 50 to take the Pfizer vaccine instead of AstraZeneca, a course change that warned it would delay the vaccination campaign.
The African Union is investigating options with Johnson & Johnson having abandoned its plans to buy the AstraZeneca vaccine from India’s Serum Institute, the head of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters.
The vaccine of the Anglo-Swedish company is sold at a cost price, for a few dollars the dose. It is by far the cheapest and most widely available to date and has none of the deep cooling requirements of some other Covid-19 vaccines, making it the most likely pillar of many vaccination programs in developing countries.
However, more than a dozen countries have suspended or partially discontinued its use, first because of concerns about its effectiveness in the elderly and now because of concerns about rare side effects in younger people.
This, combined with setbacks in production, will delay the availability of vaccines around the world as governments try to find alternatives to tame the pandemic that has killed at least 3 million people worldwide.
Italy joined France, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries yesterday as a minimum age for AstraZeneca vaccine recipients, and Britain said people under the age of 30 should get another vaccine. South Korea also suspended the use of the vaccine in people under the age of 60 this week, while approving that of Johnson & Johnson.
AstraZeneca has said it is working with British and European regulators to list possible brain clots as “an extremely rare possible side effect”.
South Africa also suspended vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine last month due to a small clinical trial that showed that the vaccine offered minimal protection against the mild to moderate form of the disease caused by the predominant local variant of the coronavirus.
AstraZeneca also addresses production issues that have led to vaccine dose shortages in many countries.
Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said today that the country was in talks with China to receive up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to fill gaps in deliveries following delays in the arrival of the British-Swedish vaccine. .
India has temporarily cut all major exports of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Indian Serum Institute (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, as the number of domestic infections rises.
This has affected supplies to the global COVAX vaccine exchange program supported by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the World Health Organization, through which 64 poorest countries are supposed to receive SII doses.
Britain has delayed vaccination due to delayed shipments from India and is at odds with the EU over vaccine exports. Australia has also blamed delays on its population vaccination campaign in Europe.
AstraZeneca cites reduced production at a European factory for supply shortages in the European Union.