Coronavirus UK news – Stop Astrazeneca covid vaccine for under-50s over blood clot fears until proven 100% safe – expert

BRITAIN'S superspeed AstraZeneca rollout should be paused in under-50s over blood clot fears, an expert has urged.

Dr Maggie Wearmouth, a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), suggested 'slowing things down' until the jab is branded completely safe. 

It comes after concerns have been rising about a small minority of people developing rare cases of blood clots.

But as yet there is no formal link between the jab and the blood clots and nothing to say what could be causing them.

Dr Wearmouth says that the rollout should be paused, however, largely to reassure the public that investigations are being carried out – not because there is necessarily a serious threat to the public.

"The issue is about safety and public confidence. We don't want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing," she said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) revealed on Friday that the UK as seen 30 blood clot cases in people who recieved the AstraZeneca jab. 

Of those, 22 are the rare CVST kind of clot that caused concern in Europe and eight were other thrombosis events.

Meanwhile the PM has defended the AstraZeneca vaccine after Europe rasied more concerns about its rollout.

He said getting the population vaccinated was "the key thing".

The PM told reporters at AstraZeneca's Macclesfield plant yesterday it was "very important to stress that the best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that's the key thing and that's what I would advocate, number one".

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Dan Keane

    CARER BECOMES FIRST BRIT TO RECEIVE MODERNA JAB

    Unpaid carer Elle Taylor, 24, from Ammanford, became the first Briton in the UK to receive the Moderna vaccine when she was given the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.

    Speaking after receiving the vaccine, the 24-year-old said: "I'm very excited and very happy.

    "I'm an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely."

    Credit: PA
  • Dan Keane

    UK SHOULD 'SLOW DOWN' JABS AS SAFETY PROBED

    Dr Maggie Wearmouth, who sits on the JCVI, has today called for Oxford jabs in the under-50s to be paused while blood clot links are probed.

    She told the Telegraph: "The issue is about safety and public confidence. We don't want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing.

    "We don't want people to lose confidence and the vaccine to stay in fridges.

    "But we don't want people to feel they have been falsely reassured either."

  • Dan Keane

    TEACHERS DON'T WANT TO EXTEND SCHOOL DAY

    Teachers do not want to extend the school day or the summer term despite kids missing out on education because of the pandemic, a survey suggests.

    Over 80 per cent of teachers believe schools and colleges should be given flexibility to decide what is important for learning following the Covid crisis.

    The Education Secretary has confirmed that a change to the summer holidays and longer school days are being considered as part of long-term recovery plans for pupils who have missed out on lessons.

    But a survey from the National Education Union (NEU) suggests that more than four in five teachers believe schools and colleges should be given flexibility to support pupil's wellbeing.

  • Dan Keane

    MHRA PROBE MUST BE CONDUCTED WITH 'URGENCY'

    Jeremy Hunt said there is "urgency" over the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluding its investigations into a potential link between the Oxford vaccine and a rare form of blood clot.

    The former health secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think there is urgency.

    "I think the one thing you can't say about the MHRA is that they act slowly – they have been very, very fast and fleet of foot throughout this pandemic.

    "But I think people do understand that this is a new virus, these are new vaccines, there is no medicine that is 100% safe, and that's why you have to look at these very difficult balances of risk."

  • Dan Keane

    VACCINATIONS 'MUST CONTINUE' AS BLOOD CLOT LINKS PROBED

    Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, told Sky News the JAB programme should continue until more is known on blood clots and the Oxford vaccine.

    He said people in their "20s, 30s, 40s and 50s" are at risk of severe Covid "and there is an argument for vaccination to continue in those individuals because the rate of this blood clot disorder is extremely low, although slightly elevated against background levels."

    Asked if he would take the jab, he said: "I think that's on balance at the moment.

    "There's still transmission of Covid, and there is a risk to all of us of being infected, particularly as the economy is being opened up and society's opening up, we are at risk of getting severe infection.

    "So I would certainly be going forward for that vaccine in the current situation."

  • Dan Keane

    JAILED KREMLIN CRITIC TESTS NEGATIVE

    Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has tested negative for the coronavirus, his lawyer Olga Mikhailova has said, adding that he has taken a second test.

    Navalny, 44, a fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin, announced that he going on a hunger strike last week in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to treat him for back and leg pain.

    It came after human rights group Amnesty International claimed Navalny had been incarcerated in conditions that amount to torture and may slowly be killing him.

  • Dan Keane

    MODERNA JAB 'ROLLED OUT IN NEXT FEW DAYS'

    A government minister has said that the Moderna coronavirus jab will be rolled out "in the next few days".

    Small business minister Paul Scully said the vaccination programme is still on target to cover all adults in England by the end of July.

    Asked about so-called vaccine passports, Mr Scully said: "The work that's being done at the moment is concentrating on ticketed big events and those types of things because they are tougher to get back to a semblance of normal, rather than the high streets with non-essential retail and hospitality, including pubs."

  • Dan Keane

    BLOOD CLOT FEARS BEING TAKEN 'VERY SERIOUSLY'

    Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and who also sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said concerns over the Oxford jab are being taken "very seriously".

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What stands out about them is that we see thrombosis, including thrombosis in the cerebral veins, all the time.

    "But we don't normally see them in association with a low platelet count – which is a small blood cell which is involved in blood clotting – and so that makes them stand out and makes us think that this is something a little bit different and out of the norm."

    Mr Finn said this meant they wanted to understand why this was being caused and whether it is linked to the vaccine.

    Told there had been 30 cases of this kind of blood clot and seven deaths amid more than 18 million people receiving the jab, Mr Finn said it "could potentially" affect the rollout of the vaccine.

  • Dan Keane

    CLOTTING LINK 'HARD TO KNOW'

    Professor Sir Kent Woods added: "Covid itself – the infection itself – is known to be associated with a substantial increased risk of blood clots of various kinds.

    "At a time when the population has got lots of Covid going around, it's very difficult to know what the actual background rate of these clotting events is without the vaccine.

    "We can say I think, that if there is a connection, it's a very, very rare one and this is why I am not concerned about the fact that relatives of mine have had the AstraZeneca vaccine in their 40s."

  • Dan Keane

    'NO RESERVATIONS'

    Professor Semple's defence of the jab comes after the former chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said he has "no reservations" about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Professor Sir Kent Woods told LBC radio: "The risks of Covid are much higher.

    "The reason it is so difficult to be certain whether or not there is a cause-and-effect relationship, even in younger people, between the vaccine and these thrombotic events, these clotting events, is that there are such clotting events occurring in the background anyway."

    He added: "It's not an unknown event."

  • Dan Keane

    SAGE EXPERT 'NOT WORRIED ONE BIT' ABOUT OXFORD JAB

    Professor Calum Semple has said he is "not worried one little bit" about headlines around the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Speaking in a personal capacity, the Sage scientist told LBC radio: "I'll take myself, I'm 53, my risk of death from Covid is about one in 13,000, for me it's a no-brainer, I need to have the vaccine."

    He later added: "This vaccine is safe. What do I mean by safe? You can look right, look left, look right again cross a road, it's safe to cross because you don't see any cars (but) you can trip, you can stumble.

    "Nothing is risk-free, but is the vaccine safe? I would say yes."

  • Ben Hill

    RYANAIR LOSSES

    Ryanair said it believes losses in the last year will now be lower than previously expected, at between 800 million euros and 850 million euros (£689 million and £732 million) compared with previous guidance of between 850 million euros and 950 million euros.

    The downgrade comes despite the company adding that travel restrictions and lockdowns over Easter, blaming the slow rollout in the EU of Covid-19 vaccinations, delayed any recovery in passenger numbers.

  • Ben Hill

    ONE DOSE NOT ENOUGH

    A study in Chile, which has one of the furthest-advanced vaccination campaigns in South America — mainly with China's Coronavac, has found that a first dose alone does not protect against coronavirus infection.

    The study by the University of Chile found inoculation to be 56.5 percent effective in protecting recipients two weeks after the second dose, and 27.7 percent effective within the first two weeks.

    But for a single dose, efficacy in the 28 days between the first and second dose was only three percent — on par with the margin of error in such studies, it said.

    Researchers looked at the combined effect of Coronavac, which accounts for about 93 percent of doses being administered, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

  • Ben Hill

    EUROPE BLAMED

    Australia's prime minister on Wednesday blamed restricted vaccine supply from Europe for his country's halting coronavirus inoculation efforts, as he faced down growing public frustration over the sluggish rollout.

    Scott Morrison said vaccine shortages and "strict export controls" introduced by the European Commission meant Australia received just 700,000 of a contracted 3.8 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

    His government, which received global praise for successfully containing Australia's coronavirus outbreak, has fallen far behind its schedule for vaccinating people.

    It had initially pledged to administer four million doses by the end of March, but had instead managed about 850,000 shots by Wednesday — drawing increasing criticism that Morrison tried to address at a hastily organised press conference.

  • Ben Hill

    SPUTNIK INVESTIGATION

    The EU drug regulator will begin investigations next week on whether clinical trials of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine followed global clinical and scientific guidelines, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

    The European Medicines Agency's probe comes as people familiar with the regulator's approval process told the FT that Sputnik V trials had not been ethically run.

    Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's Direct Investment Fund, told the newspaper, "There was no pressure (on participants) and Sputnik V complied with all clinical practices".

  • Joseph Gamp

    SNP WESTMINSTER LEADER SAYS PARTY WILL NOT BACK VACCINE PASSPORTS IN POTENTIAL COMMONS VOTE

    The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said that as things stand, his MPs will not back domestic vaccine passports in a possible Commons vote.

    "The UK government hasn't published any proposals yet, and the Tory position has been mired in confusion and contradiction.

    "On the basis of the information available, there is not a proposition in front of us that SNP MPs could support," he said.

    "While there might be a need to consider means to facilitate international travel, any such proposals must only be agreed in consultation with the devolved governments.

    "There are also considerable issues to resolve on equity, ethics and privacy which the UK government have not addressed."

  • Joseph Gamp

    COVID-19 LINKED TO INCREASED RISK OF PSYCHIATRIC AND NEUROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

    Contracting Covid-19 is "robustly associated" with an increased risk of developing mental health and neurological conditions in the six months after a diagnosis, a study suggests.

    Researchers at the University of Oxford looked at the TriNetX electronic 2020 health records of more than 230,000 Covid-19 patients, mostly from the US.

    Their study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal and said to be the largest of its kind to date, estimated that one in three Covid-19 survivors (34%) were diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of being infected.

    For 13% of people it was their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis, researchers found.

    The findings also suggested that the incidence of such conditions rose with the severity of a coronavirus case, with a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis occurring in 39% of those who were admitted to hospital, 46% of those in intensive care, and 62% in those who had encephalopathy – described as "delirium and other altered mental states" – during their Covid-19 infection.

  • Joseph Gamp

    RASHFORD CHARITY MORE THAN DOUBLES FOOD SHARED SINCE FIRST COVID LOCKDOWN

    A food redistribution charity that teamed up with footballer Marcus Rashford has more than doubled the food it has shared since the first coronavirus lockdown.

    FareShare has shared the equivalent of 128.5 million meals in the year since March 23 last year – or four every second and more than double the number in the previous 12 months.

    The 23-year-old England footballer partnered with the charity around the start of the first lockdown, concerned that school closures could lead to millions of pupils going hungry.

    Donations from Rashford and his fans have since funded the distribution of food equivalent to more than 21 million meals, with two-thirds going to children and families.

    The charity has also been supported by the Government and UK retailers who are members of Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Taskforce.

  • Katie Davis

    COVID PASSPORTS COULD BE BLOCKED IN COMMONS

    Covid vaccine passports could be blocked in the Commons as Labour threatens to team up with Tory rebels to vote it down.

    Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the scheme risks being "discriminatory" and "unfair" and accused the PM of failing to be "honest" with people about how it will work.

    He branded the blueprint an effective "digital ID card" by the back door and said the fact shops and pubs could ask for proof of a jab as a condition of entry is a major concern.

    The intervention will cause No 10 a major headache, with a large mutiny already brewing on the Conservative benches as ministers confirmed they will hold a parliamentary vote over the plan.

    So far 41 Tories have put their names to a letter calling vaccine passports "divisive and discriminatory", putting the Government's majority of 87 in jeopardy and meaning it may need the support of opposition MPs.

  • Katie Davis

    BREWERIES PRODUCTION SURGE AS PUBS SET TO REOPEN

    Hundreds of thousands of barrels of beer are heading to pubs around the country as landlords and drinkers count down the days till next Monday.

    Breweries cranked up production last week as they get ready for boozers opening for the first time since Christmas.

    Lockdown-weary Brits are expected to flock to their locals and sink millions of pints of beer, lager and ale on the opening day — and 15 million in the first week.

    Some 15,000 pubs – 40 per cent of the total in England – will re-open for outside drinking in beer gardens, car parks and even on roads from April 12.

    Up and down the country, the chains and the small independents are gearing up for the big day.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRIT EXPAT TEACHER, 35, WHO FLEW HOME TO SEE DYING MUM LEFT STUCK IN HOTEL QUARANTINE & REFUSED PERMISSION TO VISIT BODY

    A BRIT expat who flew home to see her dying mother has been left stuck in hotel quarantine and has been refused permission to visit her body.

    Mary Garvey, 35, is being “treated like a prisoner” after flying home from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on March 31, it has been claimed.

    The teacher landed just hours after her mother Margaret Garvey died after suffering from a brain tumor.

    Because of her mother’s passing Ms Garvey’s exemption letter, which allows travellers to visit gravely ill relatives, can no longer be used.

    She was instead forced into a 10-day quarantine at the Holiday Inn Express in the Midlands. Ms Garvey appealed to the government to let her leave to see her mother for one last time.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CONTINUED…

    "I understand that sense of disappointment.For the past 12 months, we have been… living alongside a global pandemic, which presents a significant threat to our healthcare system and our most vulnerable citizens.

    "In all of these months, we have had to be flexible and resilient, we have had to adapt to new circumstances and challenges as they present themselves.

    "Throughout it all, we in the education sector have been guided by public health and medical experts.

    "Fundamentally this recommendation has been driven by fact, that national and international evidence now confirms that age is the strongest predictor of whether a person who contracts Covid-19 will be admitted to hospital or ICU or die as a result of their infection.

    "This is the latest medical evidence available. This is not a value judgment on any given profession. This is simply the science. It is nothing short of remarkable, in the face of a pandemic, the manner in which schools and staff have successfully readjusted and reimagined the traditional teaching and learning experience."

  • Joseph Gamp

    CHANGE IN VACCINE PRIORITY 'NOT A VALUE JUDGEMENT ON ANY PROFESSION'

    The Education Minister has said the decision to move away from a vaccine programme based on occupation was driven by science, and was not a "value judgment on any profession".

    Norma Foley told the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) annual conference that it was based on fact and international evidence.

    The comments will come as a blow to the education sector, which had urged the minister to give teachers a higher priority for coronavirus vaccination.

    INTO president Mary Magner had previously called for Mrs Foley to announce a U-turn. Mrs Foley told the congress that the new plan was recommended to Government by health experts, and was endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

    "This new schedule has disappointed many in the education sector as it has done in other sectors," Mrs Foley said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM URGES PEOPLE TO GET COVID JAB DESPITE CONCERNS OVER POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS

    The Prime Minister has urged people to get their Covid-19 vaccine when invited, after concerns were raised about potential side effects of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

    Boris Johnson said getting the population vaccinated was “the key thing”.

    It comes as regulatory bodies from the UK and Europe are assessing data on the jab and a potential association with a rare form of blood clot.

    And the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that it will also convene a panel of experts to assess the information.

    The WHO and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have confirmed they will publish findings later this week.

  • Joseph Gamp

    COMEDY CLUB CANCELS PILOT EVENT OVER COVID-19 VACCINE PASSPORT CONFUSION

    A comedy club has pulled out of a trial to test how venues can operate safely after it said the Government failed to clarify whether it would involve Covid-19 vaccine passports.

    The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool said it was subjected to a "hate campaign" online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial Covid-status certification.

    Club co-owner Binty Blair said he has tried to contact DCMS to clarify whether Covid-19 vaccine passports will be trialled in the pilot event, but to no avail.

    The club has subsequently cancelled its event – which was due to be the first to be trialled – on April 16 at the M&S Bank Arena Auditorium, which would have had an audience of 300 people.

    "The reason for us backing out is the Government wasn't clear about the Covid passports," Mr Blair told the PA news agency.

    "The problem is we don't know what we signed up for."

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