AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Still Safe - Experts
Health experts have said the Indian manufactured Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine remains safe for use despite that the European Union (EU) has excluded it from the list of recommended vaccines on its Covid Vaccination Passport.
The exclusion on the EU Covid Vaccination Passport ‘the Green Pass’ of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine made in India by the Serum Institute under the brand name Covishield, means that everyone who has received this jab will not be considered to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the EU countries and may not be allowed entry.
However, in separate interviews with Zodiak, local health experts Dr. Victor Mithi, President for the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi, and Dr. Gama Bandawe, a Virologist and lecture at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) said the move by EU does not discredit the Indian made AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine which is widely used in African countries including Malawi but only protecting its market.
Dr. Mithi told Zodiak Online the EU move is political as much as it is a medical issue asking Malawians not to get worried about the type of vaccine they received.
Said Dr. Mithi, “the formula for the AstraZeneca vaccine that we are using here was actually developed at Oxford University. In the UK they produce the same vaccine using the same formula and it has been approved.”
“We know the vaccine is safe, it does not have a problem. This is a political problem.”
Concurring with Dr. Mithi, Dr. Bandawe said the vaccine is safe as it follows all standards just like other Covid-19 vaccines listed by the European Medicines Agency.
“The Green Pass does not include the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India under the name Covishild but includes the AstraZeneca vaccine made in Europe under the name Vaxzevria.
“They should explain to us the difference between the two vaccines, otherwise what they are trying to do is protect their market.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo has called on the EU to consider including the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine on the list of vaccines deemed safe for use within its jurisdiction.
The EU only recognizes four vaccines on its Covid Vaccination Passport namely Vaxzevria, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen having been approved by the EU's medicine regulator European Medicines Agency (EMA) as suitable for use by the EU Member States.
Ironically, the EU sponsored Covid-19 vaccine project; COVAX facility, which aims to provide Covid vaccine access to lower-income countries especially in African, and make the global population safe from the pandemic, uses the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine.
The African Union (AU) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have said the EU move works to the disadvantage of people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab made in India, calling on EU to consider increasing mandatory access to those vaccines deemed suitable for global rollout through its COVAX facility.
European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have approved Covid-19 vaccines known by the following different names:
1. Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZ) (also known as Vaxzevria)
2. Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as Comirnaty)
3. Moderna (also known as Spikevax)
4. Janssen (sometimes referred to as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) is the same as in the UK