Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says rare reports of blood clots among persons with low platelets who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) are being reviewed by regulatory agencies.
She said that consequent on this development, “we expect additional recommendations soon”.
She was speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Wednesday (April 14),
Dr. Etienne said while those recommendations are awaited, it is imperative that administration of the AstraZeneca vaccines continue, where they are available.
“Almost 200 million people around the world have received AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the reports of adverse effects are very rare,” she said, adding that “these vaccines can save your life and the lives of your friends and family.”
The Director advised that at least 10 different vaccines are being used in countries across the region.
They include the four authorised by the World Health Organization (WHO) –
the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine – SKBio and the Serum Institute of India, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Dr. Etienne said these “are already helping to prevent severe disease and deaths in places where they are in use”.
The PAHO Director indicated that more than 247 million COVID-19 vaccines have, to date, been administered in countries across the Americas.
She said the number includes more than three million doses delivered to 28 member countries, including Jamaica, that are participating in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility through the regional entity’s Revolving Fund, since March.
“But over the last few weeks, the suppliers of COVAX vaccines have run into constraints… so deliveries have slowed… and it will be a few weeks before supplies normalise,” she noted.
Against this background, Dr. Etienne said that PAHO is actively working to support countries to make the most of the limited doses, considering their short shelf life and the vulnerable populations that should be protected first.
“In the meantime, we cannot rely on vaccines to control transmission. After all, many countries were able to drive down infections last year before there were any vaccines on the market,” she pointed out.
Dr. Etienne stressed the need for better collaboration between and within countries “by ensuring that national and local authorities work together to track and control the number of new cases and hospitalisations”.
The region of the Americas has, to date, recorded more than 57 million COVID-19 cases and over 1.3 million deaths.