Covid: Trust regulator on AstraZeneca vaccine safety, Boris Johnson says

Katie Ramirez
April 6, 2021

The European Medicines Agency is expected to update its advice amid new concerns about a link between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and blood clots.

But, when asked if the incidence of rare blood clots can be linked directly to the vaccine, Mr Cavaleri replied: "In my opinion we can now say it - it is clear there is an association with the vaccine". Two vaccines - developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNtech - are being used in the UK.

After several countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab, the EMA said on 18 March that the benefits of using it outweigh the risks and it should remain in use.

The EMA's safety committee PRAC is meeting this week to discuss the latest evidence of blood clots after vaccination with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, after which it is expected to make a fresh announcement.

However, Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the EMA, told an Italian newspaper that full evaluation work was still "far from being completed" and that the risk-benefit ratio was still in favour of the vaccine.

A high proportion among the reported cases affected young and middle-aged women but that did not lead EMA to conclude this cohort was particularly at risk from AstraZeneca's shot.

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A number of countries have imposed restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, especially in younger adults.

In Germany, there have been 31 suspected cases of CVST - 19 accompanied by a drop in blood platelets - with nine deaths, according to the Paul-Ehrlich Institute.

An investigation is also underway in the United Kingdom, where researchers are looking at the possibility of links between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.

But the regulator's chief executive Dr June Raine said: "People should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so".

Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the United Kingdom government, told the BBC there was "a lot of uncertainties around" and more information was "desperately" needed.

Authorities had pledged to administer at least 4 million first doses of the vaccine by end-March, but could only vaccinate 670,000 after the European Union blocked AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Australia in the wake of the drugmaker's failure to meet its shipment pledge to the bloc.

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