The World Health Organization said Friday it believes the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine “outweigh its risks” and recommended that jabs go on while safety assessments continue.

“At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue,” the world health body said in a statement.

The statement came a day after the European Medicine Agency (EMA) asserted that use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 is safe.

Last week, the EU regulator started an investigation to determine whether serious blood clots are side effects of AstraZeneca or rather a coincidence.

In a speech to various faith leaders, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said “the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down.”

He said that more than 2.6 million people have died, and millions of people have lost their jobs as “fear, uncertainty, and suspicion abound.”

“So far, more than 400 million doses of vaccine have been distributed in 148 countries, but more than three-quarters of all vaccines are going to only 10 countries, nearly all of them wealthy,” said Tedros.

Assessment continues

The WHO also said, “Some countries in the European Union have temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure based on reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in persons who had received the vaccine.”

The health body noted that other EU countries – having considered the same information – have decided to continue using the vaccine.

“Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes,” said the WHO, noting how common blood clots can be.

WHO said it is in regular contact with the EMA and regulators worldwide for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine safety and is “carefully assessing” the latest data for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization, said the WHO.

“This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to vaccination itself, but it is good practice to investigate them. It also shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place.”

Sweden, Norway, and Denmark said they will maintain their suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine as they review the EMA conclusion that the jab is safe and effective.

On the other hand, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain on Thursday said they would resume administering the AstraZeneca jab after the EMA decision.

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