Seven out of 30 people who suffered rare blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the United Kingdom have died, even as several European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab over a potential link to blood clots.
The reports of thrombosis, submitted by medics or members of the public via a government website, came after 18.1 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the country. Most of the cases (22) were a rare clotting condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.
According to the report, eight patients suffered other types of thrombosis combined with low levels of blood platelets, which help blood clot, saying that there is no report of blood clots from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The UK regulator said: “our thorough review into these reports is ongoing.”
Growing concerns have prompted a number of countries to pause rollout of the vaccine or limit it to older people due to the relatively young age of those who suffered blood clots.
Netherlands on Friday, halted vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 60 after five new cases among younger women, one of whom died.
Germany has suspended the use of the vaccine for those under 60 after 31 cases of blood clots, most of them among younger and middle-aged women.
A number of other countries including France have imposed a similar age restrictions, while Denmark and Norway have suspended all use of the vaccine.
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.
Paul Hunter, a medical microbiologist at Britain’s University of East Anglia, said that he had initially thought the link between vaccination and blood clots was likely to be a “random association.”
As evidence mounts of clusters in separate countries, “the weight of evidence is now looking towards Oxford-AstraZeneca actually being the cause of these adverse events”, he said.
Nevertheless, the risk for the unvaccinated of dying from Covid is “substantially greater,” he said.
A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca told AFP that patient safety is its “highest priority”.
UK, EU and World Health Organization regulatory bodies have concluded that the benefits “significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups.”