Risk of Blood Clots Cause Suspension of Oxford Vaccine

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A vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Source: Vincenzo Livieri/IPA MilestoneMedia/PA Images
  • 30 cases of thromboembolic events have occurred among five million Europeans vaccinated with the Oxford vaccine.
  • The fear of blood clots has led to multiple European countries suspending the administration of the vaccine.
  • Both WHO and EMA have stated that there is no evidence the vaccine causes clotting issues.

The European Union (EU) approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in late January. However, over the past few days, multiple European countries have suspended its use. Ireland and the Netherlands are the latest to join the growing list. The suspension comes as a result of fears that the vaccine may lead to an increased risk of blood clots.

Around 30 cases of thromboembolic events have occurred among five million vaccinated Europeans. These blood clotting events include deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, thrombocytopenia and blood clots in the brain. Moreover, reports of deaths have also come forward from Denmark, Austria, and Italy. Therefore, countries have suspended the vaccine as a precautionary measure, until more data is available on the incident.

However, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have denied any evidence of a link between the Oxford vaccine and blood clots. Additionally, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is also urging people to go ahead with their vaccination.

There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine. The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while an investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing

the European Medicines Agency (EMA)

Risk of Blood Clots from COVID-19 Higher Than from Vaccine

In a recent statement, AstraZeneca announced that their vaccine posed no increased risk of blood-clotting events. Nor in any particular age group, gender, or country. They reached this conclusion after a careful safety review of all available data from the vaccinated individuals across the EU and UK. According to the statement, out of the 17 million people, only 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and 22 events of pulmonary embolism have come forward. This is much lower than what could occur naturally in the general population.

Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population. The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.

Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer at AstraZeneca

It is worth noting that blood clots can also occur naturally and are quite common. However, COVID-19 increases risk further. According to Thrombosis Canada, the risk of blood clots is 1 in 20 in those hospitalized due to COVID-19. And 1 in 100 infected individuals who are not hospitalized. In comparison, the risk with vaccines is around 1 in 250,000 or 1 in 500,000.

Moreover, the pause in vaccination can have lasting consequences in countries as they grapple with the third wave. Especially, with the rise in new variants across the world.

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