Georgia Starts AstraZeneca Vaccine Drive Amid Safety Concern

TBILISI – Georgian authorities have launched a national coronavirus vaccine rollout by inoculating medical workers with the shot produced by Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, rejecting rising concerns over side effects.

Several European countries, including Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway, have paused inoculations with the vaccine after reports of serious blood clotting in some recipients.

AstraZeneca and the World Health Organization last week said there was no evidence linking the vaccine with clotting. The European Union’s drug regulator has said that European countries can continue using the vaccine even though there were 30 cases of so-called thromboembolic events among 5 million people who had received the jab in Europe.

After being inoculated with the vaccine on March 15, the deputy director of Georgia’s national center for disease control, Paata Imnadze, expressed confidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and rejected the “rumors” surrounding it.

Among Georgia’s 70,000 healthcare workers, only 2,492 had signed up to be vaccinated as of 11 a.m. local time on March 15.

Georgia received the first batch of 43,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines at the end of last week, and it expects batches of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine by March 22.

The South Caucasus nation of some 3.7 million people has reported more than 268,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 3,650 related deaths.

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