Seven die of blood clots in UK after AstraZeneca jab but no evidence of link

3 April 2021, 08:33 | Updated: 3 April 2021, 18:01

Seven people in the UK have died from rare blood clots after receiving the Oxford-developed vaccine
Seven people in the UK have died from rare blood clots after receiving the Oxford-developed vaccine. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Seven people in the UK have died from blood clots after being given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but there is no evidence of a link, the medicines regulator has said.

It comes after the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events associated with the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab.

However, the MHRA said the risk associated with this type of condition is "very small" and that the public should continue to take up the vaccine when offered it.

The agency said it had identified the 30 cases of blood clotting events following the use of the Oxford-developed drug out of 18.1 million doses administered up to and including 24 March.

These included 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and eight reports of other thrombosis events with low platelets.

There is currently no evidence to suggest the jab caused the blood clots, the regulator said.

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The MHRA is investigating whether there is a link or if the conditions are just a coincidence.

Dr June Raine, the chief executive of the agency, said: "The benefits of Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in preventing Covid-19 infection and its complications continue to outweigh any risks and the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so."

Responding to the data, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that taking up the vaccine was "by far the safest choice" at minimising the risk of serious illness or death.

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, said: "The report states that these cases are being very carefully investigated to better understand whether or not they may have any causal relationship with vaccination.

"Nevertheless, the extreme rarity of these events in the context of the many millions of vaccine doses that have been administered means that the risk-benefit decision facing people who are invited to receive Covid-19 vaccines is very straight forward: receiving the vaccine is by far the safest choice in terms of minimising individual risk of serious illness or death."

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Regulators said they had received no reports of such clotting events after the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The announcement comes after it emerged Germany was suspending the use of the AstraZeneca jab for people aged under 60 due to fears of a link with rare blood clots.

On Friday, the Dutch Government also said it would be temporarily halting AstraZeneca vaccines for people under 60 after it received five reports of blood clots with low blood plate counts following inoculations.

The head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said that there is "no evidence" to support restricting the use of the AstraZeneca jab in any population.

It added that a causal link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the vaccine is "not proven, but is possible", saying the benefits of the drug in preventing coronavirus outweighed the risks of side effects.

The World Health Organisation has also urged countries to continue using AstraZeneca doses.

Elsewhere, care home residents in England will be allowed two regular indoor visitors - plus babies and young children - from 12 April, the government has announced.

The decision means care home residents will be allowed to see small bubbles of loved ones for the first time in months, given that infants and children will not be counted as one of the two visitors.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the increase in visitor numbers could go ahead thanks to the drop in community infection and the success of the nation's coronavirus vaccine rollout.

The DHSC said visitors will be allowed to hold hands but that personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn, while a negative rapid lateral flow test will also be required from adult visitors before entry is permitted.

Mr Johnson said: "Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different.

"I'm particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.

"Thanks to the tireless work of care home staff, and the success of the vaccine rollout, we're able to increase the number of visits in a safe and controlled way."