Ukraine has no plans to halt the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after reported blood clotting incidents elsewhere in Europe, the health minister said on Monday.

European countries including Germany, France and Italy have suspended use of the shot, which was jointly developed with the University of Oxford.

Both the British-Swedish company and Oxford have said there is no link between their vaccine and blood clotting, while the World Health Organization and Europe’s medicines regulator said they would hold meetings this week to review the safety of the jab.

“We didn’t even think about it,” Stepanov told AFP in an interview on Monday when asked if he had considered suspending the jab, which is the only one available in Ukraine.

He said the country had seen no side effects that would lead it to consider a suspension.

The ex-Soviet nation of 40 million people launched its vaccination drive at the end of February, later than most European countries.

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Ukraine has received 500,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine marketed under the name Covishield and produced in India.

But many Ukrainians, including the medical workers who are first in line to receive the vaccine, are sceptical of Covishield, which has been criticised on social media for being produced in India rather than the West.

Only 53,000 people — mostly doctors and soldiers — have received the jab in the first three weeks of the campaign.

Stepanov last week blamed the sluggish start on “anti-vax hysteria” and urged more medical workers to get the shot.

On Monday, he said “absurd myths” had affected the willingness of medical workers to receive the jab, but added: “I think this influence will only be shortlived.”

[AFP]

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