The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it will look into suspicions of negative side-effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This comes as more countries have suspended the use of the vaccine. They include the Netherlands, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says at the moment there is no proof yet that the drug is linked to causing blood clots.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean that these events are linked to the vaccine but it’s routine practice to investigate them. And it shows the surveillance system works and effective controls are in place.”
He adds: “The WHO advisory committee on vaccine safety has been reviewing the available data and is in close contact with the European Medicines Agency and will meet tomorrow.”
Earlier on Monday, France, Germany and Spain decided to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine as a “precautionary measure” pending an assessment by the EMA, which authorized its use in the European Union (EU) on January 29.
Previously, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia and non-EU countries Norway and Iceland had already fully or partially suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Speaking at a press briefing at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, the WHO chief also addressed the issue of inequality in vaccine distribution.
The greatest threat that most countries face now is lack of access to vaccines, as some of the world’s richest countries are buying enough vaccines to immunize their populations several times over, while many other countries have nothing, he said.
He continued to call on all countries to work in solidarity to ensure that vaccination begins within the first 100 days of this year.
No country can simply vaccinate its way out of this pandemic alone, and we are all in this together, he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters