Bangladesh says AstraZeneca vaccine rollout to continue

Ruma Paul
·2-min read
COVID-19 vaccination in Dhaka

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh said on Wednesday the rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would continue despite many European nations pausing vaccination to investigate serious side effects reported in some recipients.

"So far, those who took the first shot of the vaccine are all in good health, so we have no plan to halt the vaccine drive," health secretary Abdul Mannan told reporters.

Bangladesh has vaccinated nearly 4.6 million people since beginning its inoculation campaign last month with the AstraZeneca shots developed with Oxford University.

The World Health Organization's spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Monday there was no evidence that adverse incidents were caused by the vaccine and "it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus."

The WHO listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University's vaccine for emergency use last month, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shots in the developing world.

More than a dozen European countries have suspended use of it this week, however.

The European Medicines Agency is investigating reports of 30 cases of unusual blood disorders out of 5 million recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In total, 45 million COVID-19 shots have been delivered across the region.

Bangladesh has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks that the government has blamed on crowding and people ignoring health guidelines.

The South Asian country on Wednesday recorded 1,865 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest daily count in more than three months, taking infections to 562,752, with 8,608 deaths.

Mannan said the government will not impose any new lockdown despite the spike, however. Instead it will strictly monitor health guidelines such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing, he said.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Hugh Lawson)