While recognizing that the recent developments surrounding the AstraZeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine are a point of concern, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said it would be better to focus on the huge benefits of the vaccine over its risks.
Concepcion made the statement following the reports of blood clotting being linked with AstraZeneca vaccination. The country’s Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) likewise temporarily suspended the use of the said vaccine brand for persons below 60.
In his statement, Concepcion said the issue with AstraZeneca was a cause for concern but pointed out that the country is set to receive millions of doses of the vaccine soon.
“Of course any information like this is a point of concern. Most especially, we are expecting around 22 to 26 million total combined doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX facility, LGUs, and private sector procurement,” he said Thursday.
Concepcion added that the majority of the country’s workforce is below the age of 60 and needs to be vaccinated as soon as possible to keep the economy going.
“Most of the workforce in the private sector belongs to the age group below 60, same with the LGUs and other sectors, so this greatly affects a lot in our population,” he said.
“Vaccinating these sectors is very vital for the goal of our vaccination program, failing to meet these goals might have a direct hit in the economy,” he added.
Concepcion said that with more than 500,000 individuals being jabbed with AstraZeneca, the country has not known of any extreme adverse effects by now. He added that many other countries have no restrictions on the said vaccine brand except the United Kingdom (UK) which restricts ages below 30.
The GoNegosyo founder likewise said that AstraZeneca remains to be extremely effective and safe despite concerns.
“All experts agree that vaccination of AstraZeneca continues to be a huge benefit to our vaccination campaign and the current cases of very rare blood clots are still within the risk parameters,” Concepcion said.
He cited the March 31 data from the UK that revealed that from the 20.2 million recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, only 79 reported having clotting issues.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said they will continue working with the local FDA on the use of their vaccine as the safety of the patients remains to be the highest priority.
“Tens of millions of people have now received our vaccine across the globe. The extensive body of data from two large clinical datasets and real-world evidence demonstrates its effectiveness, reaffirming the role the vaccine can play during this public health crisis,” AstraZeneca said in its statement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is carefully monitoring the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks and to use science and data to drive response and recommendations.
“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is normal for countries to identify potential adverse events following immunization. This does not necessarily mean that the events are linked to the vaccination itself, but they must be investigated to ensure that any safety concerns are addressed quickly,” the WHO’s statement read.
“Vaccines, like all medicines, can have side effects. The administration of vaccines is based on a risk versus benefit analysis,” it furthered.
Meanwhile, Concepcion said they are not expecting any delays in the arrival of 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca in the country in May and June.
“We are expecting all of these with no delays as we need to vaccinate the country as fast as we can. All of the vaccines are proven safe and effective before they are approved by numerous regulatory bodies,” he said.
“We need everyone to be vaccinated as this is the only way to win this war against COVID-19. In winning this war, we could open the economy and we will be able to save both lives and livelihoods in the process,” he added.