Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021.
Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021.

AstraZeneca said Sunday a review of its data found no evidence that its vaccine against the coronavirus causes blood clots, the same day that Ireland and the Netherlands joined a growing list of countries that are suspending use of the shot.

"A careful review of all available safety data … has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the company said.

The review, which covered more than 17 million people who had received the vaccine in Britain and the European Union, was conducted as Ireland and the Netherlands joined Denmark, Norway, and Iceland in suspending the use of the vaccine because of clotting issues. Austria stopped using a batch of the shot last week while investigating a death from coagulation disorders.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer, said Sunday that though there was no conclusive link between the vaccine and incidents of blood clots, he would recommend suspending use of the shot as a precaution.

His recommendation followed Norway reporting four cases of blood clots in adults inoculated with the AstraZeneca shot.

In addition to the company itself, the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization have said there is no indication the clotting events were caused by the vaccine. 

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Meanwhile in Brazil, many have noted the absence of Zé Gotinha (roughly translated as Joe Droplet), a mascot invented in the 1980s to promote the polio vaccine and put children at ease.

Since the 1980s, the mascot has become a symbol for many vaccination campaigns, but he’s been notably absent since December when Brazil’s vaccine campaign was launched. 

“Where is our beloved Zé Gotinha?” former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said in a speech criticizing the current president’s handling of the pandemic. But some have speculated that since adults, not children, are receiving the vaccine, Gotinha’s presence may be less needed.

Also in South America, Chile said it has reached one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world, having vaccinated roughly a quarter of its population as of Sunday.  

While Chile struggled in the first months of the pandemic to contain the virus and stop its spread, health officials say they began early negotiations to buy vaccines, enabling them to launch a robust vaccination campaign this month.

The U.S. appears to be on a path to have enough vaccine doses for almost double the country’s population, after President Joe Biden directed his administration to order 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.  
 

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The U.S. has committed funding to several vaccine initiatives, including $2 billion to COVAX, the international program designed to provide coronavirus vaccines globally.   

The U.S., Australia, India and Japan also agreed last week to a partnership to make one billion vaccines available across Asia by the end of 2022, India’s foreign secretary said at a news conference in New Dehli after a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of the other countries.    

The initiative is designed to attack the global vaccine shortage and counter China’s growing diplomatic campaign to distribute vaccines in Southeast Asia and globally.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts on Saturday, Yo-Yo Ma, the internationally acclaimed cellist, celebrated receiving his second vaccine doing what he does best.  

While he waited seated with others for the 15 minutes of observation post vaccination, Ma, 65 and wearing a mask, started playing his cello.  

His impromptu performance included Ave Maria and Bach’s Prelude in G Major.

As Ma got up to leave, he was applauded by others seated and socially distant waiting for their observation to end.  

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