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A few months ago, Egypt opened its door for the public to start getting vaccinated against COVID-19. While the COVID-19 vaccine registration initially started with citizens over 60 or those suffering from chronic health issues, it is now open for everyone to register.
In Egypt, we have two vaccines available: AstraZeneca and Sinopharm. However, most citizens are offered AstraZeneca unless they face certain health issues. With many EU countries banning the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Egyptians have been skeptical and hesitant about taking it. Here’s everything you need to know about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine:
- Adenovirus vector vaccine
- Disodium edetate dihydrate (EDTA)
- L-histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
- Magnesium chloride hexahydrate
- Polysorbate 80
- Sodium chloride
- Water for injection
Who should take the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccine is prioritized for the following:
- Health workers and anyone at risk of high exposure
- Anyone over 65 years
- Anyone suffering from chronic health diseases
However, as the vaccine became more available it has been recommended for everyone except the following cases:
- Pregnant women
- People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients above.
- Children under the age of 18
Reported side effects of AstraZeneca vaccine:
While the side effects are not something everyone experiences, here are the most common side effects to expect:
- Muscle or joint pain
Rare side effects of AstraZeneca vaccine:
Just like any other vaccine or medication, there are some uncommon or rare side effects that are quite unlikely to occur:
- Vision changes
- Allergy (It is advised against taking the vaccine if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients above)
- In very rare cases, a severe allergic reaction that can sometimes be life-threatening known as anaphylaxis can occur. However, out of 19.5 million doses, only 455 reported a case of anaphylaxis. That is almost 0.002% of the number of people who received the vaccine.
- Unusual blood clots in very rare cases. Out of 25 million people who received the vaccine, 86 cases of thrombosis (blood clots) were reported out of which 18 were fatal. That’s 0.00000344% cases reported and even less than that in fatalities.
Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?
With many countries in the EU initially banning the AstraZeneca vaccine and others refusing to give the vaccine to anyone under the age of 30, many people in Egypt are afraid of taking it. The question remains: Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?
The review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found:
- The 79 cases and 19 deaths occurred after 20 million doses were administered, leading to a very rare risk of about four in one million developing a blood clot, and one in a million dying.
- Nearly two-thirds of the cases of rare clots were seen in women.
- The people who died were aged between 18 and 79, only 3 of which were under the age of 30.
According to the EMA (European Medicines Agency), while blood clots are a very rare side effect of AstraZeneca, the EMA has concluded that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the negatives. In fact, with the 25 million people receiving the dose and only 86 cases of unusual blood clots being reported, it is still unknown whether there is a direct link between the blood clots and the vaccine and the percentage is extremely low that the vaccine is still considered safe.
AstraZeneca has released the following statement on March 18th, 2021:
Following a recent concern raised around thrombotic events, AstraZeneca would like to offer its reassurance on the safety of its COVID-19 vaccine based on clear scientific evidence. Safety is of paramount importance and the Company is continually monitoring the safety of its vaccine.
A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch, or in any particular country.
Countries that have suspended AstraZeneca Vaccine:
- Denmark: On March 11th, Denmark suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. On April 14th, Denmark stopped the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine completely.
- Norway: On March 11th, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. On April 15th, Norway stopped the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine completely.
- Iceland and Finland: While Iceland initially suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine, after the EMA’s results, it has resumed the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 25th, 2021.
- Bulgaria: Bulgaria initially suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine awaiting the EMA’s results. However, on April 12th, it decided it will resume giving out the jabs. But because of the increased discomfort with the citizens, they are considering stopping the use of this particular vaccine.
- Congo: The country had delayed the AstraZeneca vaccine, but resumed the rollout of jabs as of April 14th, 2021.
- Ireland: Ireland has decided against giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone under 50 as a result of the recommendations of the Niac ( National Immunisation Advisory Commitee)
- The Netherlands: The country has decided to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 60 years.
- Indonesia: While the country initially suspended the use of the vaccine, it resumed the vaccine rollout on March 30th, 2021.
- Germany: Germany has decided to prevent anyone under the age of 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- France: France has decided against giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under the age of 55.
- Spain: The country has decided to restrict the use of AstraZeneca for those under 60.
- Italy: Only those who have received the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be given a second jab, otherwise, it will be limited for those under the age of 60 but not prohibited.
- Belgium: The vaccine will only be given to those 60 or above in Belgium.
- Cyprus: While Cyprus initially suspended the use of AstraZeneca, it resumed the rollout
- Portugal: Portugal will only use the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 60 years old.
- Latvia: While Latvia initially suspended this vaccine, it resumed the use of AstraZeneca after the EMA’s announcement.
- Slovenia: Slovenia resumed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine shortly after it suspended it.
- Sweden: Under 65 years old will be given an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- United Kingdom: Under 30-year-olds will be given an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- Greece: Greece limits the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 30 years old.
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Sources used in this article:
- AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (PF) 0.5 Ml IM Suspension (Unapproved) (SARS-Cov-2) Vaccines – Web MD
- Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: What to know about side effects – Medical News Today
- AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine: EMA finds a possible link to very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets – EMA
- The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know – WHO
- Update on the safety of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca – AstraZeneca