Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor, has put together this guide to what is currently happening with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
The German Medicines Association has reported 31 rare cases of blood clots out of the nearly 2.7 million people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country. As a result, the country suspended its use for people under the age of 60.
Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute said nine of 31 people with stroke have died, with all but two cases involving women between the ages of 20 and 63. The two men were 36 and 57 years old. Concerns center on blood clots in the cerebral venous sinuses, which prevent blood from leaving the brain properly.
Several major regulators, including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said there was no evidence to suggest the vaccine caused these rare blood clots.
While a definitive link cannot be ruled out, they say the benefits of getting the vaccine far outweigh any potential risks and both have declared it “safe and effective”.
This view was echoed by the World Health Organization, which urged countries to continue to use an elbow strike. Covid by itself can cause an increased risk of blood clots – a risk far higher than any risk posed by a vaccine.
The EMA and MHRA continue to monitor cases, but say millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered with very few reports of stroke.
The International Society of Thrombosis and Thrombosis has also recommended that all eligible adults continue to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Canada has also suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 55 due to concerns raised in Europe. France is already restricting the use of jabs to people over 55.
But many European countries are using the AstraZeneca vaccine without such restrictions after the EMA decided it was safe. These include Italy, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal.
Scientists in the UK have been largely uninterested and say there is no data to directly link the vaccine to blood clots.
Professor Adam Finn, of the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said Monday: “It is still not certain whether the vaccine caused these cases, the mechanism of occurrence of these blood clotting abnormalities and why they affect them. This very small percentage of individuals is not working. On them correctly so far.
“ What seems clear is that the risks to individuals in the currently targeted age groups for vaccination in the UK of death and dangerous blood clots are greatly reduced by receiving this vaccine, as it reliably prevents severe Covid-19 which definitely causes many deaths from blood clots. Which pose a greater and more pronounced risk of any possible rare side effects of the vaccine that may be present.
“Right now, the biggest threat to our lives and livelihoods in this country and around the world is Covid-19.”
AstraZeneca previously said its own review found no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia in any specific age group, gender, or country.