Maseru – Lesotho will continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine to fight COVID-19 because there is no evidence that it has dangerous side effects as alleged by some European countries, Health Minister Semano Sekatle has said.
The remarks come against the backdrop of reports that the DRC and several European countries had suspended the vaccine over fears that it produced potentially fatal blood clots in some patients.
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Cyprus all suspended the use of the vaccine this week. Last week, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Bulgaria suspended the use of the vaccine. Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg have suspended some batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine as well.
However, the AstraZeneca website has downplayed fears over the vaccine safety, saying they had received only 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and Britain. Both the company and the World Health Organisation (WHO) insist there is no evidence the clots were caused by the vaccine.
Minister Sekatle this week told local media that the government would continue administering the vaccine because “there was no tangible evidence that it caused blood clots or any other side effects”.
“We only rely on evidence and advice from medical experts and not media reports. So far, there is no evidence of the alleged side effects including blood clots. Even those who received the vaccine here have not reported any side effects. Therefore, we will continue using the vaccine,” Minister Sekatle said.
His sentiments were echoed by European Union Ambassador to Lesotho Christian Manahl, who said the European Medical Agency was of the view that the benefits of the AstraZeneca