Covid-19 roundup: Africa CDC to seek vaccine donation pause — report; New study suggests blood clots from AstraZeneca shot are very rare
The Africa CDC is reportedly seeking a pause in vaccine donations as logistical challenges and hesitancy begin to outstrip supply issues.
John Nkengasong, the agency’s director, told Politico on Tuesday that countries are better able to provide shots for their citizens. But concerns over getting shots into arms have mounted in recent weeks, and the continent’s CDC will ask for a donations pause until the third or fourth quarter this year.
Nkengasong reasoned the vaccines would expire if other countries and COVAX continued the pace of its current shipments.
“It’s like buying a whole basket of foods and just to put it on your kitchen counter,” he told Politico. “If you cannot use any, it will rot. But if you do that in smaller pieces, then you still get to the end goal with the same amount of food on your kitchen table — but at least you don’t have any waste.”
Most of the continent’s vaccine hesitancy comes from young individuals who don’t see the virus as much of a threat, he added. In addition, he listed the following logistical challenges: African countries still need to build up their cold-storage capacities, make more supplies like syringes and needles available, and figure out where to store unused shots.
Thus far, COVAX says it has shipped more than 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries, many of which are in Africa. The Africa CDC’s strategy also comes as President Joe Biden aims to boost US vaccine donations to other countries as the Omicron wave subsides stateside.
New study shows blood clot risk is extremely low after AstraZeneca shot
A new study from the UK is delving deeper into side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine, suggesting events of rare blood clots may be more uncommon than previously thought.
Researchers found the clots only appeared in one case per three million vaccinations, and only after individuals received their first dose, according to a paper published in PLOS Medicine. The study analyzed health records of 46 million English adults between December 2020 and March 2021 to draw its conclusions.
The paper’s authors looked specifically at intracranial venous thrombosis (ICVT) and thrombocytopenia, or clots that are sometimes accompanied by low platelet counts. Some countries suspended rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine when these issues first arose in early 2021.
Tuesday’s study showed no risk of blood clots for those older than 70, with younger populations seeing higher risk. For all populations, the authors said the risk of blood clots “are likely to be outweighed” by the shot’s benefits in protecting against Covid-19 hospitalization and death.
It’s the same side effect that induced a distribution pause in the US for the J&J vaccine last April. Though administration resumed a few weeks later following a review clearing the shot, the pause dampened vaccine uptake at the time, particularly for the J&J shot. AstraZeneca and J&J used the same technology in developing their vaccines — adenoviral vectors.