EPA/Dan Himbrechts

Gov’t suspends AstraZeneca vaccine delivery

Health Bureau Director, Alvis Lo, revealed today (Thursday) that the Macau SAR government has requested AstraZeneca to suspend the supply of its vaccine batch, TDM Radio reported.

According to Lo, the government will review more international reports and studies related to the safety of the vaccine, as well as policy recommendations from different entities before considering the next step.

The SAR was scheduled to receive 400,000 doses of the UK vaccine by June, however, reports of rare but serious cases of blood clots among those who had received the vaccine have cast some doubt worldwide over if the vaccine should be used.

Last week Hong Kong had already confirmed it requested AstraZeneca to suspend delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine amid fears of severe side effects and concerns over its efficacy against new variants of the coronavirus.

Lo noted that the World Health Organization has not made a clear statement on whether the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be used and that according to the latest recommendations, it still believes that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

The World Health Organization said the link between the vaccine and blood clots was “plausible” but not confirmed, adding that the clotting incidents were “very rare” among nearly 200 million people who have received the jab worldwide.

However, considering the pandemic situation in the city and the lack of urgency in obtaining vaccines, Lo stated that authorities have decided to play it safe and suspended the supply for now.

The EU’s medicines regulator says unusual blood clots should be listed as a possible very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab, but that the benefits outweighed the risks.

Still, yesterday Denmark announced it would stop using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine altogether, becoming the first European country to do so over suspected rare but serious side effects.

While more than a dozen countries followed suit, most have subsequently resumed its use after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), emphasised the benefits of the vaccine, judging it “safe and effective”.

As of yesterday, some 73,100 doses of either the Sinopharm or BioNTech vaccines have been administered in Macau.