Indonesia holds off on AstraZeneca vaccine

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Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that every COVID-19 vaccine approved in the country is safe even as the European Union's three biggest economies suspended use of AstraZeneca Plc's shot.

"This does not necessarily mean these events are linked to COVID-19 vaccination, but it's routine practice to investigate them, and it shows that the surveillance system works and that effective controls are in place", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual media briefing.

The Montreal North health authority reported that 8 per cent of eligible people declined the vaccine on Saturday once they found out they were set to receive the AstraZeneca shot.

Italy and Austria have stopped using certain batches of the drug as a precautionary measure.

"We do not want people to panic", World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the briefing, adding that no association had so far been found between the "thromboembolic events" reported in some countries and COVID-19 shots. The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, has been authorized for use in the European Union and many countries based on separate trial data.

Several EU countries have halted administering the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports from Denmark and Norway of possible serious side effects, including bleeding and blood clots.

"It's really, really important that we give clear, concise and carefully thought-out messages", Moschos said, citing the prevalence of conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding vaccines.

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She said Biden was discussing the need to ensure vaccines got to developing countries with his counterparts, but gave no details. Biden spoke on Wednesday as the US Congress adopted the $19 trillion Covid relief plan.

"There's absolutely no risk associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine".

"A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country", the company statement said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said evidence "does not suggest" the jab causes clots.

But experts say it's not clear whether the vaccine can be blamed for any of the clotting problems in people who had been recently vaccinated.

The reports of potential safety risks are taken seriously and data is examined constantly, a ministry spokesperson told Reuters. Pending further investigation of these claims, the country is pausing the administration of the shots, the agency said. He said none of the AstraZeneca doses deployed in Canada have come from that batch. "I really hope that doesn't happen, but I think we would be foolish not to plan for that just in case, and so planning is happening", he said. But we also need to take all precaution.

The Health Ministry stated that there have been no cases reported in the country yet, adding that there is no direct link between the vaccine and the reports from Norway.

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