Saudi Arabia denies reports of blood clots from AstraZeneca vaccine

Several countries have suspended the use of the vaccine over fears of potentially deadly blood clots

FILE PHOTO: A health official draws a dose of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

Saudi Arabia's health ministry on Tuesday denied reports about cases of blood clots and strokes in the kingdom caused by the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
"We have not had any confirmed cases of the clotting syndrome that are 'hypothetically' associated with Covid-19 vaccines," the health ministry's assistant undersecretary, Dr Abdullah Asiri said on Twitter.

"Not every stroke that comes after a vaccination is due to the vaccine itself. Thank God, the vaccine is saving lives every day," Dr Asiri said.

The official's comments come after reports circulated that the kingdom has recorded several cases of strokes that could be related to the vaccine.

"How can a wrong conclusion deducted from a generalisation become the most popular news?" Dr Asiri said.

Some European countries suspended use of the vaccine by the UK-Swedish pharmaceutical giant after several deaths from blood clots in the weeks after receiving the drug.

But reports on the vaccine have also created division within Europe, with most governments standing by the shot.

"It is important that this vaccine continue to be deployed. It is a vaccine that is safe and works," said the French government last week.

The EU's medicine regulator also encourged people to take the vaccine.

Likewise, Canada and the World Health Organisation said the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot "far outweigh the risks."

Saudi Arabia has not halted use of the vaccine.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority said the number of cases of blood clots equalled around one in 200,000 and such a low rate would be difficult to attribute to the shot.

Across the European Union, opinion polls and data from government vaccination programmes indicate scepticism about the AstraZeneca vaccine, rooted in very rare cases of people who take the shot experiencing blood clots.