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Philippines halts AstraZeneca shots for people under 60

Temporary suspension does not mean vaccine is unsafe, review by local experts underway, says official

Pizaro Gozali Idrus   | 08.04.2021
Philippines halts AstraZeneca shots for people under 60

JAKARTA, Indonesia

The Philippines on Thursday suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under the age of 60.

The decision came a day after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that there could be a “possible link” between the vaccine and “very rare cases of unusual blood clots.”

The World Health Organization also said on Wednesday that a “causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is considered plausible but is not confirmed.”

“We are aware of the recommendation of the EMA to list blood clots as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Rolando Enrique Domingo, head of the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in a statement.

Although no such accidents have occurred in the country, the agency has recommended temporarily suspending the vaccine use for those under the age of 60, while authorities await the results of a review being conducted by local experts in accordance with WHO guidelines, the official said.

“This temporary suspension does not mean that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective – it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino,” Domingo added.

The Philippines started nationwide vaccinations on March 1, with frontline health workers first in line, followed by people with co-morbidities and the elderly.

The country received an initial 526,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative.

Another 2.6 million doses, purchased by the private sector, will be delivered next month.

The COVID-19 case tally in the Philippines is now close to 830,000, including more than 14,100 fatalities.

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