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Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: 7 died, 30 blood clot cases in UK. What we know so far

FILE PHOTO: The minister added that Australia will receive over 53 million AstraZeneca vaccines in total (REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: The minister added that Australia will receive over 53 million AstraZeneca vaccines in total (REUTERS)

  • The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said the risk associated with this type of blood clot is very small
  • EMA, which like the World Health Organization previously declared the AstraZeneca vaccine safe, is expected to announce updated advice on the issue on 7 April

Of the 30 people who suffered blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, seven have died, UK medical regulator acknowledged on Saturday, saying, "Out of the 30 reports up to and including 24 March, sadly 7 have died."

Earlier, Britain's medicines regulator also stated as many 30 cases of rare blood clot events associated with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been identified so far. However, stressing on the fact that the benefits “continue to outweigh any risks."

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said the risk associated with this type of blood clot is “very small" and that people should continue to take the vaccine.

“Our rigorous review into the UK reports of rare and specific types of blood clots is ongoing. Up to and including 24 March, we have received 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and 8 reports of other thrombosis events with low platelets, out of a total of 18.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca given by that date," the MHRA report said, news agency PTI reported.

“On the basis of this ongoing review, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so," it said.

The regulator said that investigations are underway to determine if there is a link or if the cases are a coincidence and reiterated that increased adverse reaction or ADR reports reflect the increase in vaccine deployment.

“The number and nature of suspected adverse reactions reported so far are not unusual in comparison to other types of routinely used vaccines. The overall safety experience with both vaccines is so far as expected from the clinical trials," it adds.

As an additional measure, the British Society for Haematology has issued new guidance for doctors, amid concerns cases of blood clotting could be linked to a condition known as thrombocytopenia.

“At the moment, any causal association with coronavirus vaccination has not been established. However, if you identify patients with this syndrome in proximity to coronavirus vaccination, it is very important that you complete the online Yellow Card – this will trigger a request from MHRA for further details," their guidance notes.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which like the World Health Organization previously declared the AstraZeneca vaccine safe, is expected to announce updated advice on the issue on April 7. The EMA said again on Wednesday it believes the vaccine is safe and that experts have found no specific risk factors such as age, gender or medical history.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands on Friday halted vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 60 after five new cases among women, one of whom died. Germany took a similar decision earlier this week.

Last month, Sweden also extended its pause of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a woman died about a week after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Swedish Medical Products Agency said, "This is a case of blood clots in the arteries and veins and major bleeding, ie the unusual disorder that is the focus of the EMA investigation."

Amidst such concerns, the health authorities in India have called the jab safe and that the nationwide inoculation drive can continue. NITI Aayog member VK Paul had said last month that although there were concerns about the correlation of AstraZeneca with blood clot events, EMA has stated that halting it is only a preventive step.

(With inputs from agencies)

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