The opinion by the subcommittee of WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) follows a review of latest information from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the British regulatory body Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and other countries.
"Based on current information, a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is considered plausible but is not confirmed. Specialised studies are needed to fully understand the potential relationship between vaccination and possible risk factors”," said the WHO subcommittee in an interim statement issued on Wednesday.
The AstraZeneca vaccine constitutes a large part of the portfolio of the COVAX global solidarity initiative, which has already shipped more than 36 million doses worldwide to more than 86 countries.
Though concerning, cases of blood clotting are very rare as low numbers have been reported among the nearly 200 million people worldwide who have received the vaccine, according to the statement.
"Rare adverse events following immunizations should be assessed against the risk of deaths from covid-19 disease and the potential of the vaccines to prevent infections and reduce deaths due to diseases," the subcommittee stated.
The statement underlined the importance of vaccines against a disease which has killed some 2.6 million people worldwide, and that like all medicines, can have side effects.
"The administration of vaccines is based on a risk versus benefit analysis," the subcommittee said.