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AstraZeneca defends vaccine as Thailand joins countries to suspend jabs over blood clot fears

Written by on 12/03/2021

Thailand has said it will delay use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries temporarily suspended the jabs following a small number of reports of blood clots.

Officials have insisted the delay, pending an investigation into the cause of reported side-effects, will not have a big impact on the country’s rollout.

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AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine
Image: AstraZeneca insists its vaccine is safe

The decision comes despite AstraZeneca – which produced the vaccine with Oxford University – insisting there is no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.

The drugs firm said in a statement that the occurrence is in actual fact “significantly lower” in those who have been vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine causes blood clot problems, and that people should still get their coronavirus jab when invited to do so.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also backed the jab’s safety and said there have been only 30 reports of blood clots among close to five million people given the vaccine across Europe.

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It said in a statement: “The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”

Moves by several European countries to suspend the vaccine’s use marked yet another twist in the story of its bumpy rollout on the continent, which has been marred by repeated supply problems and controversial – and unfounded – doubts over its efficacy.

On Thursday, Denmark, Norway and Iceland said they were temporarily halting all AstraZeneca vaccinations to investigate reports of blood clots among people who have had the jab.

Italy also followed Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in banning jabs from one particular batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccines, which was sent to 17 countries, after reports of a death.

AstraZeneca said in a statement on Friday: “An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million 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.”

Earlier this week, the EMA reported that one person in Austria was diagnosed with blood clots and died 10 days after vaccination, but stressed there is “currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions”.

Another person was admitted to hospital with pulmonary embolism (blockage in arteries in the lungs) after being vaccinated.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: “Vaccine safety is critically important.

“The public should have confidence that both vaccines used in the UK vaccination programme are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease, including the prevention of blood clots caused by COVID.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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