By A Saleh

KUWAIT: Russian manufacturer R-pharm is one of the pharmaceutical companies licensed by AstraZeneca to produce the COVID vaccine. AstraZeneca has licensed several pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world to cover the requirements. Serum Institute of India (SII) is the largest of these factories; in fact SII is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world.

Kuwait is currently contracted to receive 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Two hundred thousand doses were received in February, and recently 130,000 doses were delivered to the ministry of health. Kuwait has contracted with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca for their vaccines. Talks are now underway with both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for further quantities.

The ministry of health recently decided to continue its campaign with the AstraZeneca vaccine following the last release of the MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in the UK, which stated that the risk of death from blood clots following the vaccination was “extremely rare”. The risk is less than 0.00065 percent. The EMA and other agencies continue to monitor this side effect to attempt to decipher whether or not there is indeed a causative relationship. The benefits of taking the vaccine significantly outweigh any risks.

It is very important to remember that COVID itself causes clots in patients. Pulmonary embolism (lung clots) occur in approximately 7.8 percent of people who have COVID-19. Out of the people with COVID-19 who end up in ICU, 23 percent will have some form of clot. COVID-19 also causes stokes in approximately 1.6 percent of patients. Up to 30 percent of people with COVID-19 will have low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia).

Putting all of the above into context, COVID-19 carries a much higher risk of clots and low platelets than those extremely rare cases with the vaccine. For now, the vaccination campaign will continue due to the prompt delivery of the vaccine by R-PHARM. The factory is committed to almost 52 countries. It is worth mentioning that Kuwait was one of the first countries to receive a batch from R-Pharm. AstraZeneca and R-pharm continue to work extremely hard to deliver as many vaccines as possible to those countries that need it.