by Clive Bacchus
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): As Caribbean nations race to get their ailing economies back on track, by using the AstraZeneca vaccine to build population immunity in their countries, news of the suspension of the use of that vaccine in some European countries has raised safety questions here.
On Friday (March 12), Thailand became the first Asian country to join the European countries Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia in suspending the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to conduct investigations into reports of blood clots.
Contacted for comment Friday, Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N France General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson told WINN that the World Health Organisation (WHO) still deemed the vaccine safe and European medical regulators have not found a causal relationship between the blood clots and the vaccines.
“As of March 9, there were 22 reported cases of persons developing blood clots out of 3 million persons received the vaccine and that is why the WHO is saying that there is no reason for alarm and we should continue,” Dr. Wilkinson told WINN about the situation in Europe.
He described some people as being predisposed to developing blood clots, ” We don’t know what is the history of these 22 cases that developed blood clots… but the cases are being investigated”.
At the time of writing this article Friday, St. Kitts and Nevis health officials have not reported any cases of severe reactions to the vaccine nor are regional media reports indicating serious complaints from people who have received the jab in the wider Caribbean.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, we have vaccinated so far over 5000 persons… and the symptoms that persons have reported are very mild, ” Dr. Wilkinson said.
The Federation, out of a stock of 22,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, reported giving first doses of the vaccine to 5, 708 people – 1559 on Nevis and 4149 on St. Kitts as of Thursday (March 11).
Barbados as of Thursday had vaccinated 50,000 people.
The BBC reports that the suspension of the vaccines in Europe comes in the wake of reports that a small number of people had developed blood clots after taking the vaccine.
An estimated 5 million people in Europe have received the vaccine.
30 cases of blood clots forming and blocking the flow of blood have been reported in Europe, according to media reports.
The death of a 50-year-old man who died from deep vein thrombosis, after being vaccinated in Italy, is under investigation.
The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s drug regulator, stressed Thursday that there is no indication that AstraZeneca was causing blood clots and is believed the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks.
The BBC reports the EMA as saying the number of cases of “blood clots” in vaccinated people were not higher than in the general population in Europe.
The United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, and Mexico have not suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and are continuing to encourage their people to get inoculated.
WHO’s spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters Friday that people should continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine, as are the other vaccines that are being used,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters at a briefing in Geneva. “We’ve reviewed the data on deaths. There has been no death, to date, proven to have been caused by vaccination,” she said.
“We must always ensure that we look for any safety signals when we roll out vaccines, and we must review them,” she said. “But there is no indication not to use it,” she further said according to a report in TRT Global.