WARSAW, Poland — The number of people in Poland who do not turn up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca ranges from over a dozen to a few dozen percent at some immunization centers, officials said Thursday.
The government official in charge of the vaccination program, Michal Dworczyk, did not give exact figures but said fewer people are currently registering for vaccination as a result of questions being raised in the media about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said abstaining from registered vaccination in Poland was “not a mass phenomenon.” Poland also is administering the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
Dworczyk insisted that the vaccine is safe and effectively protects against severe COVID-19. He said unopened, unused doses were not being wasted because they can be stored for six months.
Dworczyk said there was a certain ”panic in the European Union that is not based on any research or scientific recommendations but based on political decisions.”
The head of Poland’s Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Grzegorz Cessak said the country has registered five cases of blood clots among people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, including one death.
A nation of 38 million, Poland has ordered some 100 million COVID-19 vaccines from various makers, including some 16 million from AstraZeneca.
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — The world awaits a decision from Europe’s top medical regulator into whether there is any evidence to show the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is linked to a small number of blood clots reported in people across the continent.
The European Medicines Agency’s expert committee is set to announce the results of its investigation later on Thursday.
Earlier this week, more than a dozen countries including Germany, France, Spain and Italy suspended immunization using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after reports of unusual blood clots in several people among the 17 million who have received at least one dose in Europe. Both the EMA and the World Health Organization have said there is no current evidence to suggest the vaccine was responsible and that the benefits of immunization far outweighed the potentially small risk of getting vaccinated.
AstraZeneca said after a careful review of its COVID-19 immunization data, it found no evidence of any increased risk of blood clots in any age group or gender in any country.
LISBON, Portugal — The head of Portugal’s COVID-19 vaccination task force says he expects a surge in vaccine deliveries next month and is scaling up preparations to administer them quickly.
Rear Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo says rapid vaccination centers will open in April and a website will be launched for people to book their jabs. Pharmacies will also be available to help administer vaccines.
The plan has been on hold due to the European Union’s shortfall in anticipated vaccine supplies. “There’s no point opening a center to administer 500 or 600 vaccines a day and then only having 50 vaccines available,” Gouveia e Melo said in an interview with Portuguese news agency Lusa, published Thursday by the Expresso newspaper.
Portugal has so far been giving an average of around 23,000 jabs a day.
It is one of the countries that this week temporarily halted using the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over its side-effects.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Britain’s ambassador to South Korea has criticized South Korean authorities for mandating coronavirus tests on all foreign workers in the capital Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province in a mass testing campaign that has triggered complaints about discrimination.
In video message posted on Twitter Thursday, Amb. Simon Smith said his embassy has made it clear to South Korea’s national government that the measures in Seoul and Gyeonggi “are not fair, they’re not…