Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine use drops in Asia amid safety concerns

NEW DELHI: Asia-Pacific countries oppose Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, or limit its use, to an extent that could delay protection of the region, fearing the gunshot could trigger a rare and life-threatening blood clotting disease.
After speaking out against using the vaccine in people under 50 and saying it didn’t expect shipments from Europe to arrive on time, the Australian government dropped the pledge that everyone in the country would receive a first dose by October.
In Hong Kong, officials said they would not take delivery of the vaccine supply they ordered from the British manufacturer this year, as the city planned to rely on vaccines from BioNTech SE and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. .
While South Korea has said it will resume vaccinations with AstraZeneca this week after a suspension, it will limit its use to those between the ages of 30 and 60.
The decrease in use reflects developments in Europe, where potential links between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare occurrences of blood clots in the brain, accompanied by low platelet counts, were first identified. In Asia, where the virus has been much better contained and people are not at high risk of contracting or dying from Covid-19, resistance to the vaccine may be even higher.
“When some foreign regulators say the benefits may still outweigh the risk, they are referring to a situation where the vaccine could still save more lives from Covid-19-related deaths than would lose from this syndrome. Said Nikolai Petrovsky, professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in South Australia.
“In the context of Australia where we currently have no Covid-19 deaths, the risk-benefit relationship of the AstraZeneca vaccine is very different, especially when other vaccines are potentially available that do not appear to share that risk. ”
Like Australia, deaths from Covid-19 in Asian economies like China, Singapore and Taiwan are currently close to zero.
Lower vaccination rates have implications for global herd immunity. The world will only be safe if enough people are protected through natural infection or vaccination and the virus can no longer spread easily. Until that day arrives, there remains a risk that new variants will emerge as the pathogen mutates, potentially nullifying the immunity gained from previous exposure.
South Korea’s situation reflects the dilemma faced by governments whose procurement strategy relies on AstraZeneca fire. In its first phase of inoculating nursing home residents, inpatients and frontline healthcare workers, the vaccine accounted for about 90% of the more than one million vaccines administered so far.
Last week, the government temporarily suspended use of the vaccine for those under 60 over blood clot issues, before saying that of three locally identified cases of blood clots after Astra inoculation, two were unrelated. to the vaccine. A third did not fall under the European Medicines Agency’s definition of side effect because the patient did not have a reduction in platelet levels.
Regulators have determined that the vaccine’s benefits do not outweigh the risk of a rare blood clot for those under the age of 30 and will continue to closely monitor the safety of those who are still able to get it.
The Hong Kong government has said it does not need the AstraZeneca shots it expects in the second half of this year. The city already has enough vaccines and is in talks with suppliers to procure a new generation of vaccines that will better protect against the new variants that have emerged.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he does not know when everyone in his country will have access to the vaccination due to the problems with the AstraZeneca shooting. While the government hopes it will be widely available by the end of the year, “it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved,” he said.