MANILA— The benefits of using AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks, a public health advocate said Thursday, amid concerns that the drug could cause blood clots.
Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the public should use vaccines that are available in the country and get medical clearance if they are prone to blood clots.
Concerns have surrounded the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, which was earlier banned in parts of Europe over blood clot scares. It is one of two coronavirus vaccine brands in use in the Philippines.
Leachon, who received the jab last month, said doctors must clear people who are prone to blood clotting prior to inoculation with the AstraZeneca jabs.
"You have to take all the vaccines possible because of the surge...The risk is only small compared to the benefits. You have to give clearance to patients prone to blood clots," Leachon told ANC's Headstart.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) earlier said blood clots should be listed as a "very rare" side effect of AstraZeneca's jab, encouraging countries to continue its use.
This is "part of the regulatory process," Leachon said citing Pfizer's revision of product label after 80 frail and elderly people died in Norway following inoculation with its vaccine.
The Philippines has so far received 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from global alliance COVAX Facility.
The private sector and local governments' order of 17 million jabs from AstraZeneca are set to arrive beginning May with an initial batch of 2.6 million, according to presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The remaining balance of 14.5 million will arrive in the third quarter, he added.
— With reports from Agence France-Presse