Continued imbalance in global vaccine distribution threatens to worsen pandemic in poorer nations.
Brazil’s health regulator recommended officials stop giving AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 shots to pregnant women as authorities investigate the reported death of a woman in Rio de Janeiro who had received the vaccine.
Anvisa, as the regulator is known, said that the use of the shot on pregnant women should be “immediately suspended,” according to a statement on its website late Monday.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said in an emailed note that it was notified by Rio de Janeiro officials of the incident and is looking into the alleged death which was first reported by newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.
The ministry said that the occurrence of adverse effects is “extremely rare and lower than risks presented by Covid-19,” and will continue to recommend pregnant women get vaccinated. But the immunization of those without co-morbidities should be reassessed.
Sao Paulo state temporarily suspended the vaccination of pregnant women with previous medical conditions following Anvisa’s recommendation. New guidelines will be announced after the Health Ministry and Anvisa release more findings, the local government said in a note.
In an emailed response to questions, an Astra spokesperson said “pre-clinical studies do not indicate direct or indirect harmful effects with respect to pregnancy or fetal development, however these studies are ongoing.” Pregnant and breastfeeding women were excluded from the company’s trials.
AstraZeneca is one of two shots more widely available in the country, home to 212 million people. Brazil, which has fully vaccinated 8.6% of its population, recently moved pregnant women into the priority category for vaccinations and asked women to consider delaying pregnancies amid a rising toll on new mothers.