The government said there had been no deaths in Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday, rejecting reports that three people died from blood clots after being inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The minister for the prevention of COVID-19, Sudarshani Fernandopulle, said all three, including a Buddhist monk, died of heart failure from other health complications last week and the deaths were not caused by the coronavirus vaccine.
Some European countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia and Bulgaria, had briefly halted the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a precautionary measure after reports of blood clots in some recipients of the vaccine, even though international health agencies urged governments to press ahead with the shot, saying the benefits outweighed the risks.
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said that the vaccine doesn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots, though it could not rule out a link to a small number of rare clots.
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The move paved the way for more than a dozen European countries to resume using the vaccine.
Sri Lanka began its vaccination drive in early February on receipt of a gift of 500,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from India. Later, the country placed an order with the Serum Institute of India for more doses.
After the initial vaccination was limited to the frontline health workers and the security forces, the inoculation program was extended to cover everyone between 30 and 60 years of age.
The epidemiology unit of the ministry of health said so far more than one-third of the 21 million population had been vaccinated.
Sri Lanka recorded nearly 90,000 cases and 544 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic year ago. According to the health authorities, positive cases had decreased drastically over the last few weeks.
With the second wave of the coronavirus recorded in early October, nearly 1,000 cases were detected daily. The figure has now dropped drastically and only less than 300 cases were reported on Friday.