Philippines suspends AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination in people under 60

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MANILA, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines on Thursday announced a temporary suspension of injecting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people aged under 60, following reports of a causal link between the vaccine and blood clotting as a very rare adverse effect.

"(The Philippine vaccine) experts are carefully reviewing information pertinent to this new development to craft appropriate recommendations on the vaccine's use," the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a joint statement.

FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said the Philippines is "aware of the European Medicines Agency recommendation to list blood clots as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine."

"The FDA has recommended to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine for persons below 60 years old as we await results of the review being done by our experts, (and) the official guidance of the World Health Organization," Domingo said.

He said there has been no reports of adverse effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country so far. "Nonetheless, the DOH and FDA are carefully monitoring the rollout of vaccines to identify and appropriately manage any possible adverse events," he added.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has reported 819,164 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 14,059 deaths.

The Philippines kicked off its vaccination drive on March 1, a day after China's first batch of donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Manila.

It received last month a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility, a WHO-led initiative aims to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for various countries.

The Philippine government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity, starting with health care workers and the elderly. Enditem

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