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EU officials: AstraZeneca vaccine can cause rare blood clots, UK advises other shots for under-30s

CNN – European drug regulators have confirmed the link between the Oxford AstraZeneca shot and rare blood clots, according to officials.

UK authorities are recommending that people under 30 should take alternative vaccines. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Wednesday that a particular combination of unusual blood clots with low blood platelet counts should be listed as a side effect of the vaccine.

The agency stopped shot of saying its use should be limited, noting that the benefits still outweigh the risks of COVID-19.

UK regulators are taking a more cautious approach to the news, saying health adults under 30 should take other vaccines. Officials described the move as a “course correction” that would not derail the country’s rapid inoculation program.

The findings could have enormous implications for developing and middle-income countries, many of which are accessing the AstraZeneca shot through Covax, a vaccine-sharing scheme, CNN reported.

EMA officials said they looked at 18 deaths in their analysis. These fatalities were reported in 62 cases of clotting in the sinuses that drain blood from the brain, and 24 cases of clotting in the abdomen, CNN reported. The cases were reported in an EU safety database from European countries, including the UK, where around 25 million people in total had received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“First of all, I want to start by stating that our safety committee (the Pharmacovigilance and Risk Assessment Committee or PRAC) … has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19 overall outweigh the risks of side effects,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke told a press conference.

When questioned by journalists, PRAC chair Sabine Straus conceded that while sever clotting is extremely rare, there is not enough data to understand the exact risks and benefits for certain groups, like by age and sex.

“At the moment that’s something that’s very difficult to answer because the clinical trials … we do not have all the age stratified data available,” said Straus, adding that the agency planned to obtain that data and undertake further analysis.

EMA’s findings and the UK’s new advice also follow a move in Germany, which last week suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under 60 years old after 31 reports of CVST. Twenty-nine of the 31 were women aged 20 to 63, and nine of the patients died, according to a Reuters report citing the country’s medicines regulator.

The post EU officials: AstraZeneca vaccine can cause rare blood clots, UK advises other shots for under-30s appeared first on NBC2 News.

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