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UPDATE 1-Philippines lifts suspension on AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60s

* ‘Benefit outweighs the risk’ - official

* Only AstraZeneca, Sinovac vaccines is use in Philippines

* Philippines battling surge in cases (Adds details, background)

MANILA, April 19 (Reuters) - The Philippines will resume administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people below 60 years of age, health officials said on Monday, ending a temporary suspension over reports of rare blood clots in younger recipients overseas.

“The benefit outweighs the risk. Only a small percentage of the population had these adverse effects for AstraZeneca,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a regular news conference, referring to countries where blood clots were reported.

Health authorities will release guidelines to include different precautions on the use of the AstraZeneca shots, Vergeire added.

The European Medicines Agency had earlier recommended to include blood clots as a rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Southeast Asian nation has yet to record blood clots as side effect. It suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for under 60s on April 8.

The Philippines, a country of 108 million people, is battling one of the worst outbreaks in Asia but has administered less than 1.5 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines, 86% of which were first doses.

It has recorded 936,133 COVID-19 cases and 15,960 deaths due to the virus.

The Philippines has received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX international vaccine-share facility. More than 900,000 more were to be shipped in May or June, according to health ministry data.

Vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech accounts for 83% of doses so far delivered to the Philippines. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty)

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