British regulators have identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events in people recently given the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, 25 more than they previously reported.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said late last night it had received no such reports of clotting events following use of the vaccine made by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc.
The health officials said they still believe the benefits of the vaccine in the prevention of Covid-19 far outweigh any possible risk of blood clots.
UK regulators have now found 22 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CSVT) in 18m people given the AstraZeneca jab
Some countries are restricting use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while others have resumed inoculations, as investigations into reports of rare, and sometimes severe, blood clots continue.
On March 18, the UK medicines regulator said that there had been five cases of a rare brain blood clot among 11 million administered shots.
In yesterday’s data, it put the count at 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, an extremely rare brain clotting ailment, and eight reports of other clotting events associated with low blood platelets out of a total of 18.1 million doses given.
The MHRA said: ‘Our rigorous review into the UK reports of a rare and specific type of blood clot 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. There were no reports for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
‘On the basis of this ongoing review, the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so.’
Earlier this week health officials in Frankfurt say the country has seen 31 cases of the condition cerebral sinus venous thrombosis (CSVT) out of 2.7million people vaccinated.
At least 10 countries in Europe, joined by Germany last night, have put some kind of restriction on the use of AstraZenena’s jab, mostly opting to give it only to over-60s because the CSVT cases seem to be happening in younger adults
This suggests 0.0011 per cent of people who got the jab later developed the clot – around one in 90,000 people – although there is still no proof the jab causes them.
Other major European countries have seen significantly fewer CSVT cases despite vaccinating more people, prompting questions about why Germany is different.
If the same rate in Germany had appeared in the UK, which has vaccinated far more people, 150 people would have been diagnosed with it already because five times as many jabs have been used.
The European regulator the EMA also revealed this week twice as many women had received AstraZenca’s jab in Europe as men, before adding that the people normally most at risk of CSVT are females aged 35 to 45.
Until recently, Germany had banned the AZ jab for over-60s due to initial fears about blood clots. It raises the possibility that the rates of CSVT among vaccinated people Germany can be explained by more women who are susceptible to the condition being targeted by German rollout.
The tenuous links between the vaccine and CSVT are still mired in confusion because experts in some countries claim the condition is most common in women but all the UK’s cases have been among men, and the frequency of cases does not appear to rise in proportion as more vaccines are carried out.
And one expert points out it is unusual that the vaccine could make one ultra-specific type of blood clot more likely but not blood clots in general.
Spain, France and Italy have recorded, at most, one case per million patients despite using the jab on similar age groups to Germany.
Germany became the latest of at least 10 countries in Europe to have put some kind of restriction on the use of AstraZenena’s jab, most of them opting to give it only to over-60s because the CSVT cases seem to be happening in younger adults.
But scientists and regulators insist there’s still no evidence the vaccine is causing blood clots or any other severe side effects and that the risk of Covid is greater.
A TIMELINE OF THE ASTRAZENECA BLOOD CLOT SAGA
March 7: Austria suspended the use of one batch of the vaccine after a woman, 49, who had been given it died of a ‘severe coagulation disorder’ and a 35-year-old developed a blood clot in her lung.
March 11: Authorities in Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended all use of the vaccine following a 60-year-old woman in Denmark died of a blood clot after the reports emerged in Austria. Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke said: ‘It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link.’
March 11: European Medicines Agency’s safety committee began an investigation into the cases. It confirms 30 cases of ‘thromboembolic events’ – clots – were reported after five million vaccines in the EEA.
March 12: Thailand suspended the use of the vaccine off the back of European worries. Bulgaria also stops using it.
March 12: The European Medicines Agency, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Health Canada, the World Health Organization and AstraZeneca itself, all spoke out to defend the vaccine and say there is no proof it’s linked to blood clots.
March 13: The Netherlands, Italy and Ireland temporarily stopped using the vaccine as fears about the cases in Austria and Denmark snowballed.
March 14: Germany and France suspended the vaccine.
March 15: Spain, Portgual and Slovenia suspended use of the jab.
March 15: Professor Andrew Pollard, the Oxford expert who ran the clinical trials of the jab, insisted safety data are ‘reassuring’ and said ‘clearly those blood clots still happen’ as often as they would in unvaccinated people.
March 16: World Health Organization officials met to discuss the issue. European Medicines Agency is still investigating.
March 17: Scientists accuse governments of banning the jab on political grouns. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been a flashpoint in the past.
March 18: European Medicines Agency holds a press conference on its investigation and rules that the vaccine is ‘safe and effective’. It said there wasn’t enough evidence to rule out a link to blood clots, but also not enough to prove one. On balance, it would be safer for countries to keep using the vaccine to stop Covid. The investigation would continue.
March 18: Germany, France and Italy resume use of the jab after the EMA’s conclusion.
March 19: Finland suspends the jab after finding blood clot cases in its own population.
March 19: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Spain all confirm they will start using the jab again. Scandinavian countries did not follow suit and kept the ban in place.
March 22: A study is published that found public trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine collapsed in Europe at the time of the blood clot saga. A YouGov survey found more than half of people in Germany, France, Italy and Spain believed the jab was unsafe.
March 30: Germany bans the vaccine for people under the age of 60 after officials said they had found 31 cases of CSVT after 2.7million vaccinations.
April 2: UK regulators announce a total of 30 blood clots, 22 in the brain, have now been discovered in Britons vaccinated with the AZ jab.
Sources: Reuters; The Telegraph