Vaccines Effective Against Variants But Overseas Travel Still Not Safe: WHO

Empty vials of different vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca against Covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus are pictured at the vaccination center in Rosenheim, southern Germany, on April 20, 2021, amid the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

 

Progress against the coronavirus pandemic remains “fragile” and international travel should be avoided, the World Health Organization’s Europe director warned on Thursday but stressed that authorised vaccines do work against variants of concern.

“Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty, we need to continue to exercise caution, and rethink or avoid international travel,” Hans Kluge said, adding that “pockets of increasing transmission” on the continent could quickly spread.

The so-called Indian variant, which may be more transmissible, has now been identified in at least 26 of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe region, Kluge said during his weekly press conference.

But he said that authorised vaccines are effective against the new strain.

“All Covid-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available, approved vaccines,” Kluge said, adding that all Covid-19 variants can be controlled with the same public health and social measures used until now.

So far only 23 percent of people in the region have received a vaccine dose, with just 11 percent having had both doses, Kluge said, as he warned citizens to continue to exercise caution.

“Vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot be blinded by that light,” he said.

Ireland Suspends AstraZeneca Jab Over Blood Clot Fears

In this file photo taken on March 09, 2021 a medical worker holds a syringe and a vial of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine during a vaccination campaign at the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Ireland suspended the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, following reports of blood clots in adults who received the shot in Norway.

“The administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is temporarily deferred from this morning, Sunday 14th March,” a health ministry spokesman told AFP.

The move came after Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended suspending the AstraZeneca rollout “on the precautionary principal” after “a report from the Norwegian Medicines Agency of four new reports of serious blood clotting events in adults after vaccination”.

“It has not been concluded that there is any link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the blood clot cases and action has been taken “pending receipt of further information”, Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Rwanda’s Kagame First East African Leader To Take COVID-19 Jab

The NIAC is due to meet on Sunday morning and to issue a further statement on the matter.

Some 570,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Ireland to date, according to government data last updated Wednesday.

A total of 109,000 of those doses have been manufactured by the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said the “an analysis of our safety data that covers reported cases from more than 17 million doses of vaccine administered has shown no evidence of an increased risk” in blood clot conditions.

“In fact, the reported numbers of these types of events for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca are lower than the number that would have occurred naturally in the unvaccinated population,” a statement added.

Ireland — a nation of five million — has suffered 4,534 deaths from the coronavirus according to latest official figures.

The Republic is currently in the midst of its third lockdown after suffering a surge of cases which saw it become the world’s most infectious nation in early January.

In this file photo taken on February 12, 2021 a vial containing the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table in the pharmacy of the vaccination center at the Robert Bosch hospital in Stuttgart, southern Germany.  THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP

 

The government is already under pressure from opposition lawmakers over a drought in vaccine supply amid a sluggish nationwide rollout tethered to the EU jabs programme.

On Thursday health minister Stephen Donnelly said AstraZeneca is “repeatedly changing its delivery schedules, often at the last minute, and revising down the volumes it will deliver”.

“It is deeply frustrating for everybody, with so many people looking to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he told lawmakers in Ireland’s Dail lower house of parliament.

AFP

Taraba Receives 56,250 Doses Of AstraZeneca Vaccines

Officials in Taraba receive the AstraZeneca vaccines on behalf of the state government on March 11, 2021.

 

The Taraba State government has taken delivery of its first batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for onward vaccination of its residents through the Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA).

A total of 56,250 doses of the vaccines were sent to the state via the Yola International Airport in the north-eastern part of the country.

The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Health, Dr Ebenezer Apake, received the vaccines on behalf of the state government on Thursday.

He noted that at least 80 per cent of the state’s population needed to be vaccinated in order to be protected against the pandemic.

“These vaccines, even though developed in record time, should be effective in reducing the severity of cases,” said Apake who urged residents to avail themselves for vaccination.

Despite receiving the vaccines, he said the state government would not in any way lower its guard on adherence to the safety protocols of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The agency saddled with the responsibility of vaccination – PHCDA – said it has trained a total of 254 staff to carry out the exercise, as well as sensitised residents on what the vaccine was about.

Its Executive Secretary, Aminu Jauro, noted that they have intensified their efforts in curbing the spread of the disease across the 168 wards of the state.

He disabused the minds of residents on the insinuations that the vaccine was allergic, saying frontline health workers would receive the first jab in Taraba.

“To allay the fears of residents towards the uptake of the vaccines, we have carried out sensitisation workshops with all stakeholders – which is very key,” Jauro said.

In his remarks, the coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Taraba, Farouk Umar, said they would provide the needed technical support to the state health sector.

“We are part of the planning for the coming of the vaccines to administration for proper following of the right protocol,” he said.

The arrival of the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Jalingo is seen as a sign of hope in the midst of despair in view of the rising number of cases in the state.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria, Taraba has recorded 881 infections, out of which 55 patients are on admission and 22 deaths.