What did the regulators say?
A review by the EMA’s safety committee concluded on April 7 that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Emer Cooke, Executive Director of EMA, said: “The risk of death from Covid is much greater than the risk of death from these side effects.”
The MHRA said the vaccine still had huge benefits in preventing Covid-19 and serious illnesses, but added that due to a very low number of blood clots in young people, those under 30 will be offered instead of Pfizer or Moderna jabs.
Dr June Raine, Managing Director of the MHRA, added: “Anyone who exhibits symptoms four or more days after vaccination should see a doctor promptly – a new onset of a severe or persistent headache or blurred vision. , shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, or even unusual skin bruising or spot spots beyond the injection site. “
How did other countries react?
Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada have restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in young people. Italy and Spain have stopped the use of the jab in people under 60.
It comes as Denmark announced on April 14 that it would stop administering the Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford / AstraZeneca due to its possible link to very rare cases of blood clots, several Danish media reported, citing from anonymous sources.
The decision, which would remove the vaccine from Denmark’s immunization program, could delay the rollout of the vaccine in the country for up to four weeks, based on previous statements from health agencies.
France said those under 55 who received a first dose of AstraZeneca should take a different vaccine for the second. Olivier Véran, the country’s health minister, said the new advice would be that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines be used for their second dose.
While Spain will study the effects of mixing different vaccines against the coronavirus, government researchers said on April 19, in response to evolving guidelines on shooting safety for the AstraZeneca.
Additionally, Australia has doubled its order for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, as the country rushes to revise its inoculation plan amid concerns about the risk of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
What did AstraZeneca say?
In March of this year, AstraZeneca said it was analyzing its database to understand “whether these very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) occur more frequently than one would naturally expect. in a population of millions of people “. .
Meanwhile, on April 6, a trial of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in children was suspended, but the scientists involved said there were no safety concerns with the trial itself and that they were awaiting further information from the MHRA.
In response to these concerns, a study from the University of Oxford looked at the impact of blood clotting on the brain in coronavirus patients and AstraZeneca recipients, finding that the occurrence of brain clots due to the coronavirus was eight times the risk presented by the AstraZeneca jab.
Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said he expects all vaccines to have “some background level of clotting problems”. Professor Sir Bell went on to say that data on this issue is still being collected for further study.
What are the experts saying?
British scientists have said urgent research is needed to better understand the risk of these rare blood clots.
David Werring, professor of clinical neurology at the UCL Institute of Neurology, said: “The statements from the EMA and MHRA are helpful in further clarifying the very rare blood clots with low platelet counts – primarily in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) but also in other parts of the body – which have occurred after the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The EMA and MHRA point out that the overall benefit of the vaccine in preventing illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19 clearly outweighs the risks of this rare potential complication; therefore, vaccination programs should continue as planned.
“We still urgently need more research to first understand which individuals are most at risk for these unusual blood clots in the brain, which although very rare, can often be serious or fatal.”