Philippines lifts suspension on AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for under 60s

MANILA (REUTERS) – The Philippines will resume administering AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people below 60, health officials said on Monday (April 19), ending a temporary suspension over reports of rare blood clots in younger recipients overseas.

“The benefit outweighs the risk. Only a small percentage of the population had these adverse effects for AstraZeneca,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a regular news conference, referring to countries where blood clots were reported.

Health authorities will release guidelines to include different precautions on the use of the AstraZeneca shots, Ms Vergeire added.

The European Medicines Agency had earlier recommended to include blood clots as a rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The South-east Asian nation has yet to record blood clots as side effect. On April 8, it suspended the use of the vaccine for those under 60.

The Philippines, which has a population of 108 million, is battling one of the worst outbreaks in Asia but has administered fewer than 1.5 million shots of Covid-19 vaccines, 86 per cent of which were first doses.

It has recorded 936,133 Covid-19 cases and 15,960 deaths due to the virus.

The Philippines has received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covax international vaccine-sharing facility. Over 900,000 more doses are to be shipped in May or June, according to Health Ministry data.

Vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech account for 83 per cent of doses so far delivered to the Philippines.

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