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. Other countries in the EU – having considered the same information – have decided to continue using the vaccine in their immunization programmes.
Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally.
In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunization. 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.
WHO is in regular contact with the European Medicines Agency and regulators around the world for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine safety. The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is carefully assessing the latest available safety data for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Once that review is completed, WHO will immediately communicate the findings to the public.
At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue.
In the past week new cases continued to rise globally, increasing by 10% in the past week to over 3 million new reported cases. After peaking in early January 2021 when there were just under 5 million cases, new cases then declined to around 2.5 million in the week commencing 15 February 2021, but in the past three weeks have increased again. This week, the Americas and Europe continue to account for over 80% of new cases and new deaths, with rises in new cases seen in all regions apart from Africa, where they remained the same as last week