Trust AstraZeneca vaccine safety, Boris Johnson urges amid blood clot fears

6 April 2021, 13:45 | Updated: 6 April 2021, 18:12

The UK vaccines regulator is looking "very carefully" at links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and blood clots
The UK vaccines regulator is looking "very carefully" at links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and blood clots. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Trust the UK regulator's view that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe despite blood clot fears, Boris Johnson has urged.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking "very closely" at links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and a small number of cases of blood clots amid reports the jab could be restricted in the under-30s.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC on Tuesday the MHRA will look into any possible issues but urged people to continue getting their vaccines as the "benefits outweigh the risks".

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

Boris Johnson, visiting an AstraZeneca plant in Macclesfield, said: "I think the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator, that’s why we have them… their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab."

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

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"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.

"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."

A total of 30 brain clot cases have been found in 18.1 million patients so far - one in 600,000 people or 0.00017 per cent.

The UK relies heavily on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for its supply after the government ordered 100 million doses.

In a statement, Dr June Raine said: "People should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.

"Our thorough and detailed review is ongoing into reports of very rare and specific types of blood clots with low platelets following the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

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"No decision has yet been made on any regulatory action."

On Tuesday morning, a top European Medicines Agency (EMA) official announced it was "clear there is a link" during an interview with an Italian newspaper.

Asked if the UK plans to prioritise other vaccines, such as the drug developed by Pfizer, Mr Zahawi said: "The MHRA is independent and they're looking at these very rare blood clot incidents and they will report, as they did last week, and they'll continue to look every day at the incidents."

Mr Zahawi claims the the UK's vaccination programme has saved thousands of lives since December last year, with the vast majority of over-70s having received the jab.