The World Health Organisation (WHO) safety experts are preparing to meet over the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, whose rollout has been stopped in numerous European countries over blood clot fears. Germany, Italy and France joined others in suspending the jab on Monday in a swift blow to the global vaccination programme. WHO experts will discuss data from the vaccines, and European medicines regulator the EMA will hold an unprecedented meeting on Thursday in an effort to decide if any further action will be taken.
How many cases of blood clots with AstraZeneca?
Figures from AstraZeneca suggest there have been 37 cases of blood clots all together.
AstraZeneca states 15 of these cases have been diagnosed as deep vein thrombosis, while there have been 22 cases of pulmonary embolism so far.
The company’s executives, hiowever, stress this is comparable to the rates seen among other licensed vaccines.
However, experts say there were no more cases than the number of blood-clot incidents typically reported.
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The EMA said in a statement that “many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons” and insisted the number of incidents in vaccinated people “seems not to be higher thanthat seen in the general population”.
The medicines regulator said: “The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”
Speaking via videoconference in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “As countries roll out COVID-19 vaccines, WHO is continuing to keep a close eye on their safety.
“WHO is aware that some countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines based on reports of blood clots in some people who have received doses of the vaccine from two batches.
“This measure was taken as a precaution while a full investigation is finalise.
“It is important to note that the EMA has said there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and blood clots and that the vaccine can continue to be used while its investigation is ongoing.”
The Director General said the findings and any change to the organisation’s recommendations following the investigation will be relayed to the public “immediately”.
AstraZeneca also released a statement in which the company said there is no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots with the vaccine.
The vaccine manufacturer said, in fact, the occurrence is “significantly lower” in those who have been vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population.
The UK’s own Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said there’s no evidence to suggest the vaccine causes blood clots as well, and urged people to still get their jab wherever possible.
AstraZeneca said: “An analysis of our safety data of more than 10million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca.
“In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population.”