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AstraZeneca Under Spotlight

Owing to blood-clot concerns and other complications arising from the use of the Covid-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca PLC, more European countries like Germany, Italy, France, and Spain have temporarily halted its use. This has only contributed to slowing down the already sluggish vaccine rollout of the continent.

A cascade of hurdles in March 2021 have posed serious questions on the use of this and other vaccines that are in distribution around the world. Denmark was first to suspend the shots. Ireland, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands also followed suit, saying that they will wait for Europe’s bloc-wide medicines regulator to investigate a small number of serious blood-clotting issues who have taken the AstraZeneca shot.

With these developments, New Delhi has finally decided to conduct the review after the aforementioned countries suspended rollout, even after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that there was no reason to stop using AstraZeneca. India plans on conducting a deep review of the post-vaccination side effects, although no new blood-clot cases have been reported so far.

The local version of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is known as Covidshield. The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, joined hands with AstraZeneca to produce one billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine.

On March 24, the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released a statement expressing concern that AstraZeneca may have provided outdated information relevant to the clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, which contributes to a distorted view of the efficacy data. The agency requested AstraZeneca to work alongside the independent DSMB (Drug and Safety management Board) so as to review the efficacy data of the vaccines and disclose its latest accurate data to the masses as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, the British-Swedish drug-maker AstraZeneca formulated its response stating that it would share the primary analysis report of this vaccine with the most updated data with the independent DSMB.

The Indian counterpart of AstraZeneca – Covidshield, was being administered in a two-dose regimen after an interval of 4-6 weeks. However, according to the latest reports, the government has now increased the interval between the two shots to 4-8 weeks.

With a rise of coronavirus cases in the country, the need to fasten the vaccination drive is only becoming more urgent. According to the data of the Health Ministry, a total of 50,075,162 vaccine doses have already been administered across India. The efficiency of this vaccination drive should not be bolstered or slowed in order to meet the goal of vaccinating a major chunk of the Indian population.



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