DRC postpones Covid-19 vaccination campaign over blood clot fears
CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is expected to postpone its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, originally set to begin on Monday.
The DRC received 1.7 million doses made by Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and was due to start its campaign this week.
However, mirroring similar moves by other countries, the country decided to postpone its vaccine roll-out as a precaution due to concerns about blood clots, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Sunday.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Health Minister Eteni Longondo said: "There were countries which suspended their vaccination plans out of precaution because they reported problems with thrombosis and death. So far, there is no proof that these problems are linked to the vaccine," he said.
The DRC has recorded 26,846 cases, 712 deaths and 22,432 recoveries since the first Covid-19 case was detected in the country on March 10, 2020, when a Congolese national returning to Kinshasa from his residence in France tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to Longondo, a new date for the DRC's vaccination campaign will be announced shortly, after the results of national and international investigations are made available.
More than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the DRC last week as part of the Covax initiative, which aims for an equitable distribution of doses across the world, according to news agency AFP.
Covax, run by the WHO along with health NGOs, is aiming to supply vaccines to dozens of countries in the first 100 days of 2021, and two billion doses by the end of the year.
The alliance comprises the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the WHO.
The vaccines in the DRC are part of the first wave of supplies that will continue over the next few weeks, AFP reported.
Medical authorities decided to use the AstraZeneca vaccine because it meets the DRC's storage conditions (between 2° and 8°C).
Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria and Iceland have paused using the shot as a precaution after concerns about blood clots were raised, RFI said.
On Saturday, Indian officials said they would carry out a deeper review of its post-vaccination side effects.
The WHO has said that no evidence has been found directly linking the AstraZeneca vaccine to blood clotting.
The company insists the jab is safe and that "no evidence" exists of higher risk of blood clots, according to RFI.