The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three Covid vaccines approved for use in the UK. Millions of people in the top priority groups have received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to date. However, following investigations by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), advice on who should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine has now changed.
Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA, said during a briefing on Wednesday that more than 20 million people have received a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in the UK.
Up to March 31, the MHRA received 79 reports of blood clots accompanied by low blood platelet count, all in people who had their first dose of the vaccine.
Of these 79 people, a total of 19 people have died, although it has not been established what the cause was in every case.
According to the MHRA, of the 19 people who died, three people were under the age of 30.
READ MORE: ‘People should not lose confidence!’ – Professor on AstraZeneca jab
The NHS website explains: “The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus.
“For people aged 30 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems.”
In a series of interviews on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to reassure the public over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mr Hancock insisted the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for all ages in an interview with Sky News.
He said: “All three vaccines that are in use in the UK are safe and they’re safe at all ages, but there’s a preference for the under-30s, if they want to have the Pfizer or Moderna jab, then they can.”
Mr Hancock also told BBC Breakfast: “The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.
“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.”
He added: “The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million (the chance of developing a rare brain blood clot) – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”