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UPDATE 1-Congo delays AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine rollout

KINSHASA, March 12 (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo has delayed the rollout of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, citing the suspension of the use of the shots by several European countries, two health ministry spokesmen said on Friday.

Congo received 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses via the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme on March 2, but is yet to start its inoculation programme.

A World Health Organization expert advisory committee is currently looking at AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after some countries paused distribution of the shot, but a spokeswoman said there is no reason not to use it.

Health authorities in Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria have suspended the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who had been vaccinated.

“We hear that in Europe there are several countries that have suspended the vaccine. We are going to check to know more about this problem,” a spokesperson for Congo’s health ministry told Reuters.

The sprawling central African country has confirmed 28,846 cases of the virus, of which 712 have died. (Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Heinrich)

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