'Clear' link between AstraZeneca jab and blood clots, says regulator

European drug regulator chief warns there is now a ‘CLEAR’ link between AstraZeneca’s Covid jab and blood clots – as it is claimed UK WON’T ban vaccine for under-30s amid review over its safety in younger people

Marco Cavaleri, vaccines head at the European Medicines Agency, said there is a ‘link’ between AstraZeneca jab and clots

A European drug regulator chief has insisted there is a ‘clear’ link between AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine and blood clots.

Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency, made the claim today – but admitted they were still not sure how the jab was triggering the problem.

‘In the next few hours, we will say that there is a connection, but we still have to understand how this happens,’ he told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

‘We are trying to get a precise picture of what is happening, to define in detail this syndrome due to the vaccine.

‘Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis… among young people than we would expect.’

Britain’s medical regulator is expected not to recommend the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccines use in under-30s today amid a review of its safety.

The MHRA announced on Friday it has seen 30 brain clot cases in 18.1million AstraZeneca-vaccinated people – around one in every 600,000 people (0.00017 per cent). None have been recorded for the Pfizer vaccine.

But there are fears that while the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risks in elderly people, the use of the Oxford-made jab in younger indivuals is ‘more complicated’.

European countries have raised concerns over cases of a very rare blood clot that stops blood draining from the brain properly, called CVST or cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, recorded in a few cases after people received the jab.

Germany and the Netherlands have suspended use of the jab for people under 60 amid fears over the clots. 

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said today the AstraZeneca jab may not be suitable for young people if its link to blood clots is proven to be true. 

 AstraZeneca is on track to roll out a new booster vaccine that will tackle coronavirus variants by autumn, the firm said

Two senior sources told Channel 4 News that while the data is still unclear there are growing arguments to justify offering younger people – below the age of 30 at the very least – a different vaccine.

Both sources, however, emphasised their support for the Oxford jab and their concerns that any restriction of its roll-out could damage public confidence.

The MHRA is conducting a review of new data before giving a recommendation on whether to still offer the jab to all Britons under-30. 

Dr June Raine, its chief executive, said: ‘The benefits of Covid vaccine AstraZeneca in preventing Covid infection and its complications continue to outweigh any risks and the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.’

She added: ‘Our thorough review into these reports is ongoing. 

‘We are asking healthcare professionals to report any cases they suspect to be linked with Covid vaccination via the Covid yellow card website.’

The head of the EMA, Emer Cooke, has previously stressed there is ‘no evidence’ to support restricting the use of the jab across the continent.

She previously added a link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the jab is ‘not proven, but is possible’, but added that the benefits far outweigh risks.

The World Health Organization has also urged countries to continue using the ‘safe and effective’ jab, which offers a backdoor to get the world out of the pandemic.

Professor Ferguson – who scared ministers into imposing Britain’s first lockdown in March with his prediction of thousands of deaths – said that should a link be identified then the jab should be suspended for under-30s.

‘In terms of the data at the moment, there is increasing evidence that there is a rare risk associated, particularly with the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘But it may be associated at a lower level with other vaccines, of these unusual blood clots with low platelet counts. It appears that risk is age related, it may possibly be – but the data is weaker on this – related to sex.

‘And so the older you are, the less the risk is and also the higher the risk is of Covid so the risk-benefit equation really points very much towards being vaccinated.

‘I think it becomes slightly more complicated when you get to younger age groups where the risk-benefit equation is more complicated.’ 

Professor Paul Hunter, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, also told the programme it is ‘not uncommon’ to get a cluster of rare events by chance. 

‘But once you find that cluster in one population and it then crops up in another – such as previously in the German and now in the English – then I think the chances of that being a random association is very, very low,’ he said.

‘Clearly more work needs to be done, but I think the evidence is shifting more towards it being causally related at the moment.’

‘(But) the chance of dying if you don’t have the vaccine is many times greater than the risk of dying from CVST after the AstraZeneca vaccine, even if it does turn out, as I suspect it will, that this link is causal.’ 

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