Marco Cavaleri, vaccines head at the European Medicines Agency, said there is a ‘link’ between AstraZeneca jab and clots
A European drug regulator chief has insisted there is a ‘clear’ link between AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine and blood clots.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency, made the claim today – but admitted they were still not sure how the jab was triggering the problem.
‘In the next few hours, we will say that there is a connection, but we still have to understand how this happens,’ he told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
‘We are trying to get a precise picture of what is happening, to define in detail this syndrome due to the vaccine.
‘Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis… among young people than we would expect.’
Britain’s medical regulator is expected not to recommend the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccines use in under-30s today amid a review of its safety.
The MHRA announced on Friday it has seen 30 brain clot cases in 18.1million AstraZeneca-vaccinated people – around one in every 600,000 people (0.00017 per cent).
But there are fears that while the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risks in elderly people, the use of the Oxford-made jab in younger indivuals is ‘more complicated’.
European countries have raised concerns over cases of a very rare blood clot, called CVST or cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, recorded in a few cases after people received the jab.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson has said the AstraZeneca jab may not be suitable for young people if its link to blood clots is proven to be true.
AstraZeneca is on track to roll out a new booster vaccine that will tackle coronavirus variants by autumn, the firm said
The evidence is shifting towards a causal link between rare blood clots and the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, according to an expert.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events out of 18.1 million doses of the jab administered up to and including March 24.
There have been seven deaths among the 30 cases.
But the regulator said the benefits of the vaccine in preventing coronavirus outweigh any risks and it urged the public to continue coming forward for the jab.
It did not disclose any information about the seven people who died such as their ages or health conditions.
The 30 cases include 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and eight of other thrombosis events with low platelets.
CVST clots stop blood draining from the brain properly.
Professor Paul Hunter, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “It is not uncommon to get clusters of rare events purely by chance.
“But once you find that cluster in one population and it then crops up in another – such as previously in the German and now in the English – then I think the chances of that being a random association is very, very low.
“Clearly more work needs to be done, but I think the evidence is shifting more towards it being causally related at the moment.”
However he said the risks of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine are still far outweighed by the risks of not getting the jab.
“The chance of dying if you don’t have the vaccine is many times greater than the risk of dying from CVT (cerebral venous thrombosis) after the AstraZeneca vaccine, even if it does turn out, as I suspect it will, that this link is causal,” he said.
Germany is suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged under 60 due to fears of a link with rare blood clots.
On Friday, the Dutch government also said it would temporarily halt AstraZeneca jabs for people under 60, after it received five reports of blood clots with low blood plate counts following vaccinations.
But the head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said there is “no evidence” to support restricting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in any population.
The agency said a causal link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the vaccine is “not proven, but is possible”, also adding that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.
That view is echoed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has urged countries to continue using the jab.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “The benefits of Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in preventing Covid-19 infection and its complications continue to outweigh any risks and the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.
“As published in our most recent weekly summary of yellow card reporting for Covid-19 vaccines, up to and including March 24 we had received 22 reports of CVST and eight 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. Our thorough review into these reports is ongoing.
“We are asking healthcare professionals to report any cases they suspect to be linked with Covid-19 vaccination via the coronavirus yellow card website.”
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