LONDON. – There have been 79 cases of rare blood clots, resulting in 19 deaths, in people receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in Britain, the country’s medicines regulator said yesterday.
“By the 31st of March over 20 million doses having been given, we have had 79 cases reported. Of the 79 cases, 19 people have sadly died,” June Raine, chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told a briefing
The embattled AstraZeneca vaccine came under further pressure yesterday, as the European Union’s medicines regulator found a possible link between the shot and rare cases of blood clots, while the United Kingdom announced it would offer young people an alternative jab due to such risks.
The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) widely anticipated verdict yesterday followed a review of dozens of reports of an extremely rare clot in the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), among recipients of the jab.
The findings come as a major hurdle in the global fight against the pandemic and a shift in the stance of the regulator, which had last week backed the vaccine and said there was no increased risk of blood clots in general from the shot.
It is also a blow to AstraZeneca, which was a frontrunner in the race for making an effective vaccine against Covid-19 ever since it began working with the University of Oxford. The EMA’s safety committee, which was assessing the vaccine, has requested for more studies and changes to the current ones to get more information.
The regulator said as of Sunday, it had received reports of 169 cases of CVST from the 34 million doses of the shot administered in the European Economic Area.
It concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine, but recommended that vaccinations continue in adults, reiterating its stance that the benefits of the shot outweigh any risks.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit Europe hard, with many parts of the continent now in the grips of a deadly third wave of infections and the EU struggling to turn around a sluggish initial rollout of vaccines.
“EMA is reminding healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination,” the body said. – Agencies.
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