Egypt reassures citizens on AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine safety amid side effect concerns

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 30 Apr 2024

Egyptian health authorities have reassured citizens about the safety and effectiveness of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine after the UK pharmaceutical giant admitted rare blood clot risks associated with its usage.

AstraZeneca vaccine
WHO declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023, attributing the feat to highly effective vaccines. AFP


A class action lawsuit in the UK accused AstraZeneca that its vaccine, developed along with Oxford University, has caused death and serious injury in numerous cases, according to The Telegraph.

The High Court has received complaints of 51 cases, wherein victims and their bereaved families are pursuing compensation amounting to an estimated value of 100 million British pounds ($125.47 million).

Defending vaccinations

Egypt’s health ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar defended COVID-19 vaccines, in a statement on Tuesday, stating that the occurrence of blood clot side effects after vaccination is rare and has been known since 2021.

“Three out of a million vaccinated cases develop blood clots, a percentage close to that of those developing blood clots without receiving the vaccine among high-risk groups,” he said.

Abdel-Ghaffar noted that the probability of developing blood clots is ten times higher with a COVID-19 infection than with vaccination.

Moreover, he clarified that individuals at risk of developing clots may experience it shortly after vaccination, as the risk diminishes after this period.

He also dismissed reports of blood clots occurring long after vaccine administration.

Abdel-Ghaffar asserted that no local or global health organization has prohibited the vaccine due to blood clot risks. However, some recommendations suggest not using it for certain categories of individuals.

AstraZeneca admits risks

AstraZeneca, contesting the claims, admitted for the first time in a legal document submitted to the UK High Court in February that its vaccine can, in “very rare cases,” cause Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), a syndrome characterized by blood clots and low blood platelet count.

The UK Health Security Agency has indicated that TTS can occur after COVID-19 vaccination, particularly following the first dose of adenovirus-vectored coronavirus vaccines, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

AstraZeneca persists in Egypt

Since 2021, several countries, including various European nations, have suspended using the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reports of blood clotting in vaccinated individuals.

According to the University of Oxford in 2022, over three billion vaccine doses have been distributed to 183 countries.

Although the British government has defended the vaccine, it is no longer used in the UK based on recommendations by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), which suggests prioritizing mRNA vaccines like Pfizer or Moderna for boosters.

Mostafa El-Mohammadi, director of vaccinations at the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) also defended AstraZeneca’s vaccine, stating in televised remarks on Monday that side effects are normal in widespread vaccination campaigns.

He noted that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine demonstrates its safety and effectiveness.

El-Mohammadi denied any recent review to halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Egypt, in remarks to the Al-Masry Al-Youm news website.

He added that the direct relationship between the vaccine and blood clots needs to be confirmed through studies.

Egypt’s coronavirus vaccinations

The Egyptian Drug Authority granted emergency use authorization for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield in January 2021.

Egypt has relied on AstraZeneca among various other vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Sinovac, in its nationwide vaccination campaign since January 2021.

In January 2023, Egypt announced that over 40 million citizens, out of its 104 million, have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

As of 2022, nearly half a million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Egypt, according to the health ministry's official statistics.

While the pandemic continues to pose a global threat, the WHO declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023, attributing the feat to highly effective vaccines.


Short link: