UK Government Reassures Public Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Safety


THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP

 

Britain moved Thursday to reassure the public over the safety of its coronavirus vaccine campaign, after deciding to offer alternatives to an AstraZeneca jab amid blood clot concerns.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to keep getting inoculated, a day after Britain’s medicines regulator said the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm was linked to 79 cases of rare clotting and 19 deaths.

But those under 30 are to be offered alternatives the AstraZeneca vaccine, more than 20 million doses of which have been administered since early December.

Hancock emphasised the serious side effects were “extremely rare”, adding that all three of the vaccines so far approved for use in Britain were “safe for all ages”.

Addressing those under 30, an age group in which vaccine hesitancy tends to be higher and is largely yet to be offered the jab, he urged young people to keep faith with the UK’s vaccine drive.

“The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine,” Hancock told the BBC, referring to two other vaccines approved by British regulators.

“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life,” he added.

– Herd immunity? –

The decision Wednesday by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), on the advice of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has stoked fears the country’s successful vaccine programme could be derailed.

Officials said the changes would not impact the rollout timetable of offering a first dose to all adults by the end of July, thanks to supplies from US firm Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, a US-German joint effort.

The European Medicines Agency also presented its findings Wednesday on the AstraZeneca jab, saying clotting should be listed as a “very rare” side effect to the vaccine.

Britain, one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with nearly 127,000 dead, has sped ahead with its vaccination campaign relative to European neighbours.

The UK has administered nearly 32 million first vaccine doses to people — around 60 percent of the adult population.

Hancock emphasised the impact vaccinations have had on Covid deaths in the UK, saying the number of people dying from Covid was cut in half in the last nine days.

According to modelling by a team at University College London, the country could reach herd immunity from the virus by Monday.

The research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, estimates nearly 75 percent of people should have immunity from the virus by next week.

However, some medical experts urged caution over the assessment.

“Unfortunately, the modelling approach used to produce this analysis has a history of making over-confident and over-optimistic predictions,” noted Adam Kucharski, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

-AFP

India Suffers Vaccine Shortages As COVID-19 Cases Spike

People stand in a queue at a Covid-19 vaccination centre amidst rising Covid-19 coronavirus cases, in Mumbai on April 8, 2021.
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

 

More than 700 million people across India were facing coronavirus vaccine shortages Thursday, local media reported, as infection numbers hit yet another daily record. 

Case numbers had eased in India but a second wave of the virus has since returned with a vengeance, with more than 126,000 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours, a new record.

Several regions have tightened curbs on activity while Maharashtra, the current epicentre of India’s epidemic and home to megacity Mumbai, is set to enter a lockdown at the weekend.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received his second shot on Thursday, tweeting that vaccines are “among the few ways we have to defeat the virus”. He urged others to follow his lead by getting vaccinated.

India’s vast vaccination programme is reportedly experiencing problems having administered 87 million shots so far in a population of 1.3 billion people.

According to the Times of India, 10 states have stocks that will last only three or four more days, including Uttar Pradesh, home to about 200 million people, as well as Bihar and West Bengal.

In Maharashtra, the state health minister issued a dire warning on Wednesday, saying supplies would run out in three days unless replenished.

“We are having to tell people that since vaccine supplies have not arrived, they should go home,” Rajesh Tope told reporters.

Major vaccination centres across Mumbai, which has recorded over 480,000 infections, were running out of doses Thursday, with the huge Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital stopping inoculations altogether.

At a government-run vaccination centre in the Mumbai neighbourhood of Dharavi, India’s largest slum, long queues formed as people waited to get a jab.

Afrin Sultana Khan, in charge of the facility, warned it would only be able to vaccinate another 440 people — its daily average — before shutting shop.

“We are trying to see what we can do to save some stock for tomorrow,” the doctor told AFP.

“Obviously we are very worried.”

She added that she had no idea when new doses would arrive.

One district in the state of Andhra Pradesh ran out entirely on Tuesday and the whole of the south-eastern region of 55 million people may have no supplies left by Thursday, the Economic Times reported.

In the eastern state of Odisha a letter from the health minister seen by AFP said the area “will be able to continue vaccination for the next two days” after Wednesday.

 

People wait in a queue to get a Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) at a temporary centre inside a temple in New Delhi on April 8, 2021.
Money SHARMA / AFP

 

– ‘Utterly baseless’ –

However, federal health minister Harsh Vardhan said late Wednesday that many states were trying to “distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”.

Allegations of shortages in Maharashtra were “utterly baseless”, he said.

“Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and state governments are being apprised regularly about it.”

Ajay Ghai, a senior health official in Uttar Pradesh, said “vaccine supplies are happening on a rolling basis and so is the replenishment. There is no shortage at all.”

The head of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, said on Tuesday that production capacity was “very stressed” and it called for financial help from the government.

Poorer countries, as well as some rich nations, have relied heavily on Serum for supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine but last month New Delhi put the brakes on exports to prioritise domestic needs.

Chief executive Adar Poonawalla said the firm had been sent a legal notice by AstraZeneca about delivery delays, but Serum would only resume exports in the next two months “once the situation in India cools off”, he added.

Total coronavirus cases in India are nearing 13 million and there have been 170,000 deaths from the virus, although the per capita rate of infection in the world’s second-most populous country remains low compared to other nations.

-AFP

Nigeria Goes Six Days With No New COVID-19 Deaths

A health worker helps his colleague with his PPE during a community testing as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Nigeria on Wednesday recorded 110 new cases of the novel coronavirus but no new deaths for the sixth consecutive day, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The last time the health agency recorded a death was on April 1 when the toll increased by one to 2,058.

Wednesday’s new cases were reported from 11 states, including Lagos (24), Yobe (24), FCT (16), Bayelsa (10), Rivers (10), Kaduna (10),Nasarawa (5), Akwa Ibom (4), Bauchi (3), Edo (3), and Plateau(1).

To date, the country has recorded 163,440 cases of the virus out of which 153,788 have recovered.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government took delivery of 100,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Indian government as vaccination efforts continue across the country.

 

Nigeria had received 3.94 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the WHO-backed vaccine initiative COVAX in early March, triggering the commencement of the country’s vaccination drive.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Nigeria had vaccinated 964,387 eligible persons against the Covid-19 virus, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

The additional vaccines from India are expected to boost the country’s efforts to vaccinate most of its population against the virus.

The Federal Government has said it is seeking to vaccinate no fewer than 70 percent of its over 200 million-strong population.

More vaccine doses are still expected from COVAX as well as from an African Union scheme financed by the African Export-Import Bank.

AstraZeneca Fears

Meanwhile, fears have grown over the absolute safety of the AstraZeneca vaccines which Nigeria is heavily dependent on for its vaccination program.

Britain on Wednesday said it would adopt new medical advice to offer most people under 30 an alternative to the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab if possible, due to concerns over blood clots.

A potential blow to the UK’s highly successful Covid-19 vaccine programme, it comes after the country’s medicines regulator reassessed the shot’s safety following dozens of clotting incidents among people who had received it.

The MHRA regulator said its “rigorous scientific review of all available data” had found 79 blood clots and 19 deaths among people who had received one of the 20 million AstraZeneca doses administered in the UK.

It insisted such incidents remained “extremely rare”.

The European Medicines Agency said earlier that clots should be listed as a “very rare” side effect of the vaccine. Both bodies however said that it should still be used, as the dangers from catching coronavirus were greater than those of receiving the jab.

AstraZeneca released a statement saying that the two studies “reaffirmed” that the benefits of its vaccine “far outweigh the risks”.

But Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the government, said that given the lower risk posed by the virus to young people, it would change its guidance for them.

“Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old who do not have an underlying health condition… should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Wei Shen Lim of the JCVI told journalists.

The alternatives, which in Britain currently are vaccines developed by US firm Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, should be offered “if available”, he said.

AstraZeneca said in its statement that it was “already working to understand the individual cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events”.

79 Blood Clots, 19 Deaths In UK After Taking AstraZeneca Jab – Regulator

In this file photo an illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on November 17, 2020. AFP

 

There have been 79 cases of rare blood clots, resulting in 19 deaths, in people receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in Britain, the country’s medicines regulator said Wednesday.

“By the 31st of March over 20 million doses having been given, we have had 79 cases reported. Of the 79 cases, 19 people have sadly died,” June Raine, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told a briefing.

.Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

On the same day, the British government committee advising on coronavirus vaccinations said most people under 30 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab if possible, due to concerns over blood clots.

“Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old who do not have an underlying health condition… should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where such an alternative vaccine is available,” Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said at a press conference

AFP

WAEC Releases Private WASSCE Results, Stays Mute On May/June Exams

Wearing face-masks, final year students of Government Secondary School, Zone 3, Abuja, sit in a classroom as they write their West African Examinations Council exams, following the ease of COVID-19 lockdown order on Monday August 17, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.
FILE: Wearing face-masks, final year students of Government Secondary School, Zone 3, Abuja, sit in a classroom as they write their West African Examinations Council exams, following the ease of COVID-19 lockdown order on Monday August 17, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.

 

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) on Tuesday announced the release of results of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for private candidates.

However, the examination body said it was unsure of when the WASSCE for school candidates, usually held in May/June would hold this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much felt in the education sector,” head of the Nigeria national office of WAEC, Patrick Areghan, said at a press briefing in Lagos. “The academic calendar has been distorted.

“It will, therefore, not be possible to have the examination in May/June this year.  A convenient International Timetable for the conduct of the examination will soon be released.  All stakeholders are requested to keep their fingers crossed until they hear from WAEC.”

The private candidate examinations, usually scheduled for November, were held between February and March 2021 “under strict COVID-19 protocols.”

According to WAEC, “there was no reported case of any invigilator, supervisor, WAEC staff or any examination functionary, for that matter, being infected with the dreaded Coronavirus disease.”

A total of 7,690 candidates entered for the examination, representing a 38% decline when compared with the 2020 figure.

However, only 2,195 candidates, representing 30.11% obtained credits and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

“The number of candidates that had five credits, including English Language and Mathematics may not necessarily be a basis for judging the level of performance in this examination,” Mr Areghan said.

“This is because the examination is more or less a remedial one. Some candidates may just need only one or two papers, other than English Language and /or Mathematics to remedy their admission deficiencies.”

Candidates who sat the examination are now free to check the details of their performance on the Council’s results website: www.waecdirect.org.

The Result Checker PIN and Serial Number needed by candidates to check their results online are contained on the candidate’s Smart Identity Card used during the conduct of the examination.

The private candidate examination is “primarily designed to help candidates seeking admission to tertiary institutions to reduce the waiting time for results and beat admission deadlines.”

 

Georgia PM Tests Positive As COVID-19 Cases Spike

A man wearing a face mask walks downtown Tbilisi on March 28, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

 

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said Tuesday he tested positive for coronavirus amid a fresh spike in cases in the Caucasus nation despite the start of a vaccine rollout.

“I am feeling well,” Garibashvili, 38, said on Facebook. “I am in self-isolation and continuing to work remotely.”

On Tuesday, Georgia registered 897 new coronavirus cases — three times the average number of daily infections recorded over the past months.

Overall, the Black Sea nation of some four million people has registered more than 275,000 coronavirus cases and 3,832 deaths, the health ministry said.

In mid-March, Georgia began a national vaccination campaign by inoculating medical workers with AstraZeneca’s jab.

In addition to some 43,000 doses of AstraZeneca provided through the Covax vaccine-sharing programme, Georgia also received enough doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to inoculate some 14,000 people.

More than 11,600 people have been vaccinated so far, director of Georgia’s National Centre for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze, told journalists on Monday.

He said the rollout “needs to be accelerated”.

The authorities in Georgia have so far ruled out any further anti-virus curbs.

Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia said on Monday there was “no need at this point” for further anti-pandemic restrictions.

In May last year, Georgia lifted its coronavirus lockdown and allowed shops to reopen, but a night-time curfew has remained in place.

One Killed After Bangladesh Police Fire On COVID-19 Protesters

In this photo taken on April 5, 2021, shop workers protest against restrictions imposed as a preventative measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Dhaka. (Photo by – / AFP)

 

One protester was killed and at least three others are in critical condition after police in Bangladesh opened fire on a violent protest against coronavirus restrictions, officials said.

The incident took place Monday in the central town of Saltha in Faridpur district, where rumours had spread that a man at a market was injured while police were enforcing Covid-19 controls as cases spike nationwide.

Thousands of people took to the streets in anger.

One group hurled bricks at a police station, vandalised government offices and torched an officer’s home and two government cars, police said.

A police spokesman said officers opened fire “in self-defence” after the station was attacked.

A 20-year-old Islamic student was killed and at least seven people injured, including three police, according to Suminur Rahman, Faridpur deputy chief of police.

Staff at state-run Faridpur Medical College Hospital said three people with gunshot wounds are in critical condition.

“One of them was hit in his buttocks, another in his chest and the third person was shot in both legs,” Abdul Matin, a doctor at the emergency ward, told AFP.

Police said supporters of the hardline Hefazat-e-Islam group had joined the attack.

Hefazat members were involved in deadly clashes during demonstrations against a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.

Bangladesh on Monday instituted a seven-day nationwide lockdown after 7,087 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the highest daily total recorded in the South Asian nation.

All domestic buses, ferries, trains and flights have been suspended, and shops and malls have been shut. A nighttime curfew is also in effect.

Hundreds of shopkeepers in the capital, Dhaka, protested the lockdown, saying it would hurt their businesses.

‘Not Proper’ To Ignore COVID-19, Says Tanzanian President

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, inspects a military parade following her swearing in the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021. Hassan, 61, a soft-spoken Muslim woman from the island of Zanzibar, will finish Magufuli’s second five-year term, set to run until 2025. AFP

 

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said Tuesday it was “not proper to ignore” the coronavirus pandemic, in comments suggesting a shift from her Covid-sceptic predecessor who downplayed the disease.

In another sign of change, Hassan also ordered an easing of restrictions on media that had been banned before she took office last month.

Hassan announced she would create an expert Covid task force to advise her government, saying they would canvass global opinion on the pandemic and make recommendations about “remedies” and policies.

“It is not proper to ignore it. We cannot reject or accept it without any evidence from research,” Hassan told her newly-appointed permanent secretaries at a swearing-in ceremony in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

“They (experts) will tell us more about the pandemic, and advise us about what the world is proposing. We cannot accept everything as it comes, but we also cannot isolate ourselves as an island while the world is moving in a different direction.”

Hassan became Tanzania’s first female president last month following the death of John Magufuli, a Covid-sceptic who spent the better part of the pandemic denying coronavirus existed in his country before his sudden death at 61.

Authorities said Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style, died of a heart condition on March 17 after a mysterious three-week absence but his political opponents insisted he had coronavirus.

Hassan has vowed to “start where Magufuli ended” and all eyes have been on potential changes to the country’s policies and openness regarding Covid-19.

Tanzania has not reported any Covid-19 data since April 2020 and few measures have been taken to curb the spread of the virus, which Magufuli said had been fended off by prayer, insisting face masks were not needed.

“We cannot be reading about Covid in the world and when you reach sections about Tanzania, one find gaps. I think we need to be clearer whether we accept or not,” she said.

In another policy announcement, Hassan ordered that officials “free” media outlets banned by her predecessor, whose administration was criticised for a heavy-handed crackdown on the press.

“We should not give any room to say that we are suppressing media freedom,” she said.

“Our regulations should also be clear for every offence and their punishment. We should not use force to ban media platforms.”

No media outlets were mentioned by name, but last year Tanzania’s Daima newspaper was indefinitely banned while broadcaster Wasafi TV, and online network Kwanza TV, were handed suspensions.

Tanzania was long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in an otherwise volatile neighbourhood, but alarm grew over a slide into autocracy under Magufuli’s rule.

Most foreign media were not allowed into Tanzania to cover the 2020 presidential election in which Magufuli and Hassan, then his deputy, won a second term in a disputed vote.

COVID-19: Millions Mark Easter As Pope Urges Jabs For Poor

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi Blessing after celebrating Easter Mass on April 04, 2021 at St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP

 

 

Millions of Christians around the world celebrated a second Easter under coronavirus restrictions on Sunday with Pope Francis calling for vaccines to be shared among the poorest nations as Covid-19 surges.

Despite vaccine rollouts gathering pace in many richer countries, dramatic spikes in cases have seen deeply unpopular restrictions enforced from Canada to Europe and South America.

Vaccination was “an essential tool” in the fight against the virus, the pope said in his Easter Sunday address, with Italy under a strict lockdown over the weekend.

“I urge the entire international community… to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” he said to a congregation of only around 100 people inside the vast St. Peter’s Basilica.

Stricter curbs have come into effect in Belgium as well as in France, where authorities are scrambling to deal with a serious spike in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in Paris.

In the Covid-19 intensive care unit of the Antony Private Hospital south of Paris, no bed stays free for long.

Nurse Louisa Pinto gestured to a vacated room where a cleaner was already at work, scrubbing down the mattress for the next arrival.

“The bed won’t even have time to cool down,” she said.

Across the Atlantic, Canada crossed the threshold of one million coronavirus cases, forcing several provinces to tighten restrictions for the Easter weekend.

And celebrations have been dampened in South America too, where Brazil is in the grip of a devastating outbreak likely fuelled by a more contagious variant.

The worrying situation led Peru to go into an Easter lockdown, Bolivia to seal the frontier with Brazil, and Chile to close all borders.

But in Jerusalem, curbs have been partially lifted due to Israel’s successful vaccination campaign, allowing Easter celebrations to go ahead.

Easter mass was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Tourists are however still generally barred, and the tens of thousands of pilgrims who usually flock to holy sites could not enter this year.

– ‘I beg you, get a vaccine’ –
The pandemic has claimed more than 2.8 million lives worldwide, but populations are growing increasingly frustrated with curbs on movement.

Thousands protested in the German city of Stuttgart on Saturday against Covid-19 restrictions, with a heated debate under way in the nation about tightening them in the face of a third wave of infections.

Such demonstrations have become a regular occurrence in Germany, bringing together members of the extreme left and far right as well as conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine campaigners.

Misinformation about vaccines has been a major problem in the fight against Covid-19, fuelled by how rapidly conspiracy theories about the pandemic can proliferate on social media.

A dramatic illustration of its impact is in Serbia, where the government is desperately trying to convince people to be vaccinated and has a million doses available — a buffet of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinopharm shots.

“I beg you, people, get a vaccine,” Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic pleaded recently.

Serbia’s leading epidemiologist Predrag Kon said the slow take-up is “solely a consequence” of anti-vaccine misinformation online.

Britain has been one of the countries worst-hit by coronavirus but is running a successful vaccination scheme and has slashed death and infection rates.

As a result the UK is to trial a “Covid status certification” system at events including football matches in coming weeks.

It will show whether someone has a negative test, vaccination or immunity and offer a possible way out of virus restrictions, the government said.

– Bollywood star tests positive –
In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, however, vaccinations are proceeding at a fast pace, with authorities giving at least one shot to 60 percent of the population of less than a million.

Neighbouring India is meanwhile battling a new surge, expanding its vaccination programme on Thursday to the 45-60 age group. The country is aiming to inoculate 300 million people by the end of July.

Experts have warned that infections in the vast South Asian nation are increasing at a faster pace compared with last year.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar on Sunday became the latest Indian celebrity to test positive, following cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar last month.

Neighbouring Bangladesh will implement a lockdown from Monday as it grapples with a sharp rise in infections amid reports hospitals are struggling to cope.

Seven Have Died In UK After Receiving AstraZeneca Vaccine – Regulator

 

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 UK medical regulator said Saturday that out of 30 people who suffered rare blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, seven have died.

The British acknowledgement of deaths comes as several European countries have paused the use of the AstraZeneca jab over a potential link to blood clots.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement that “Out of the 30 reports up to and including 24 March, sadly 7 have died.”

The reports of thrombosis, submitted by medics or members of the public via a government website, came after 18.1 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the country.

Most of the cases (22) were a rare clotting condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Eight cases saw people suffer other types of thrombosis combined with low levels of blood platelets, which help blood clot.

There were no reports of blood clots from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the UK regulator said, adding that “our thorough review into these reports is ongoing”.

But MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine stressed that the benefits far outweighed any risks. “The public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so,” she said.

Europe update expected

Both the MHRA and European Medicines Agency (EMA) say no causal link has yet been established between the blood clotting case and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But growing concerns have prompted a number of countries to pause rollout of the vaccine or limit it to older people due to the relatively young age of those who suffered blood clots.

Netherlands on Friday halted vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 60 after five new cases among younger women, one of whom died.

Germany has suspended the use of the vaccine for those under 60 after 31 cases of blood clots, most of them among younger and middle-aged women.

A number of other countries including France have imposed a similar age restrictions, while Denmark and Norway have suspended all use of the vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which like the World Health Organization previously declared the AstraZeneca vaccine safe, is expected to announce updated advice on the issue on April 7.

It said Wednesday that there had been 62 cases worldwide of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, 44 of them in the European Economic Area, which includes the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

This figure did not include all Germany’s cases, however.

More than 9.2 million AstraZeneca jabs have been administered in the region.

The EMA said it believes the vaccine is safe and that experts have found no specific risk factors such as age, gender or medical history.

‘Weight of evidence’

Paul Hunter, a medical microbiologist at Britain’s University of East Anglia, told AFP that he had initially thought the link between vaccination and blood clots was likely to be a “random association”.

As evidence mounts of clusters in separate countries, “the weight of evidence is now looking towards Oxford-AstraZeneca actually being the cause of these adverse events”, he said.

Nevertheless, the risk for the unvaccinated of dying from Covid is “substantially greater,” he said.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca told AFP that patient safety is its “highest priority”.

UK, EU and World Health Organization regulatory bodies have concluded that the benefits “significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups”, she said.

AstraZeneca said last month following US efficiency trials that its vaccine is 76 percent effective at preventing the disease. It also said data for the EU and the UK showed no increased risk of blood clots.

The UK has administered more than 31 million first vaccine doses, using both the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs. People cannot choose which one they get.

The UK in June 2020 ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and supported its development. It also ordered 30 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the same year.

 

AFP

Odumakin Died Of COVID-19 Complications, Afẹ́nifẹ́re Confirms

The spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, speaks during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 5, 2020.

 

Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afẹ́nifẹ́re has confirmed that its former spokesman Yinka Odumakin passed away due to complications from COVID-19.

Mr. Odumakin’s death was announced early Saturday prompting tributes from President Muhammadu Buhari, other top government officials and eminent Nigerians.

“It is with extreme sadness and sorrow that The Afẹ́nifẹ́re regret to announce the passing away of our Publicity Secretary Mr Yinka Odumakin which occurred on the 3rd day of April, 2021,” a statement from Afẹ́nifẹ́re, signed by its General Secretary, Mr Sola Ebiseni, said.

“The sad event happened this morning (Saturday, 3/4/2021) at the intensive care unit of LASUTH where he was being managed for respiratory issues due to complications from COVID-19 which he had recovered from about a week ago.”

The statement lauded Mr Odumakin’s character and praised him for his selfless service to the Yoruba body.

“Our organisation which is 70 years old this very month has had the services of our Dear Publicity Secretary for 17 years, uninterrupted, Unbroken,” it said.

“He served The Afẹ́nifẹ́re with all his might, power, intellect and soul. Steadfast, Forthright unalloyed!

“Mr Yinka Odumakin was a heart of loyalty personified. We will miss him. The Yorùbá that the Afẹ́nifẹ́re serve, will miss him. The nation Nigeria at these times needs him and will miss his invaluable services at these most difficult times of our debilitating challenges.

“On behalf of our Leader and Leader of The Yorùbá, the Afẹ́nifẹ́re extend our condolences to his immediate family We admit, endurance is an elusive virtue at these difficult times, but we counsel the family to embrace Fortitude at these trying times.”

Argentine President Tests Positive For COVID-19

(FILES) Handout file photo taken on June 10, 2020 released by Argentina’s Presidency of President Alberto Fernandez wearing a face mask with the colors of Argentina’s national flag and the map of the Malvinas / Falkland Islands at the Olivos Presidential residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires, on the Day of the Assertion of the Argentinian Rights over the Malvinas (Falklands), South Georgia, the South Sandwich and Surrounding Maritime Spaces.

 

 

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, announced late Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“At the end of today, after presenting a fever of 37.3 and a slight headache, I performed an antigen test, which was positive,” he tweeted, adding he was waiting for the results of a PCR test to confirm the diagnosis.

The president, who turned 62 on Friday, was in isolation as a precaution but said he was “physically well.”

“Although I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, I am also in good spirits,” he said.

Fernandez was inoculated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and had his second shot on February 11, sources in the presidency told AFP.

Argentina is facing a second wave of coronavirus with a sustained rise in cases.

The South American country of 44 million inhabitants has recorded more than 2.3 million infections and over 55,000 deaths from COVID19.