'Link' found between AstraZeneca jab and blood clots, EMA official says

6 April 2021, 11:59 | Updated: 6 April 2021, 14:31

The UK medicines regulator says people should still get their vaccine after the EMA said they had found a link with blood clots and the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.
The UK medicines regulator says people should still get their vaccine after the EMA said they had found a link with blood clots and the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The UK's medicines agency has reiterated that people should get their jab when invited, after the head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency said there is a link between the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clots.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency say they are conducting a "thorough and detailed review" into reports of "very rare and specific types of blood clots with low platelets following the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca".

But they stressed that "no decision has yet been made on any regulatory action" and CEO Dr June Raine enouraged people to "continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so".

The comments come after Marco Cavaleri, who is one of the top officials at the European regulator, told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper: "In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine."

He added that it was not clear what had caused such a reaction and the EMA have since distanced themselves from the comments.

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A top EMA official says they have found a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.
A top EMA official says they have found a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots. Picture: PA

In a statement released on Tuesday the EMA said they have "not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing. We will communicate and hold a press briefing as soon as the review is finalised."

"This is currently expected tomorrow (Wednesday, 7 April) or on Thursday, 8 April."

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Currently the EMA recommend that people in Europe have the jab, writing last week: "The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects".

It is not apparent whether this will change, as the rare blood clotting has only been found in a very small number of people who have taken the jab.

The UK medicines regulator and World Health Organisation both recommend that people take the jab.

A review by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency found just 30 cases of blood clots out of 18.1 million people who have received the AstraZeneca jab in the UK.

Speaking after the EMA comments, Boris Johnson defended the AstraZeneca vaccine as he visited the pharmaceutical giant's manufacturing plant in Macclesfield.

"On the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator - that's why we have them, that's why they are independent," he told reporters.

"Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab."

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On Tuesday Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi also told LBC that the MHRA is looking into any possible issues but urged people to continue getting their vaccines as the "benefits outweigh the risks".

He said: "The MHRA, led so brilliant by June Raine, looks very closely at any of those blood clotting issues or any adverse incidents.

"There's a thing called the 'yellow card system' in place that allows people to either self-report or their clinicians to report any adverse incidents.

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"June Raine said last night they look at these things very, very carefully but also she said that if you get the invitation for your vaccine then please take it because the benefits outweigh the risks."

It follows a Channel 4 report on Monday which suggested the agency was looking at restricting the number of young people who could have access to the jab.