Earlier this month, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over a blood clot issue. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)

Earlier this month, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over a blood clot issue. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)

Benefits outweigh risks for AstraZeneca despite 7 deaths, says U.K. medicine regulator

Concerns have already prompted some countries including Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands to restrict its use to older people

Britain’s medicines regulator is urging people to continue taking the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, despite revealing that seven people in the U.K. have died from rare blood clots after getting the jab.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, said it wasn’t clear if the shots are causing the clots, and that its “rigorous review into the U.K. reports of rare and specific types of blood clots is ongoing.”

Though the agency said late Friday that seven people had died as a result of developing blood clots, it didn’t disclose any information about their ages or health conditions.

In total, MHRA said it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events out of 18.1 million AstraZeneca doses administered up to and including March 24. The risk associated with this type of blood clot is “very small,” it added.

“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,” said Dr. June Raine, the agency’s chief executive.

Concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine have already prompted some countries including Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands to restrict its use to older people.

The U.K., which has rolled out coronavirus vaccines faster than other European nations, is particularly reliant on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed by scientists at the University of Oxford. It has also been using the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, of which the agency has not seen any reported blood clot events.

Figures Saturday showed that the U.K. has given a first dose of vaccine to 31.4 million people, or around 46% of its population, a much higher rate than the rest of Europe. Delivering second doses is the priority for April, with 5.2 million people now having received two jabs.

The relative success of the country’s vaccination program has been credited for helping to sharply reduce new coronavirus infections in the U.K. after a winter surge, paving the way for a modest easing of lockdown restrictions on gatherings.

On Saturday, the U.K. recorded another 3,423 infections, slightly up on the previous day’s six-month low of 3,402. It also recorded only 10 coronavirus-related deaths, its lowest daily total since early September.

Despite the improved coronavirus backdrop, the U.K. has recorded Europe’s highest COVID-related death toll, with over 126,500 deaths.

In France, which has restricted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 55, the family of a 38-year-old woman who died after suffering post-vaccination blood clots in the brain filed a criminal complaint in Toulouse on Saturday seeking a manslaughter investigation.

She is among four people in France who died after suffering blood clots in the weeks after getting an AstraZeneca vaccine shot. France’s national medicine safety agency says it is investigating those cases and eight other cases of severe blood clotting in people who survived.

MHRA’s view about the relative benefits of the vaccine is shared by the European Medicines Agency. It has said a causal link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine is “not proven, but is possible,” and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects. The World Health Organization has also urged countries to continue using the jab.

Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the “extreme rarity” of the blood-clotting events in the context of the millions of jabs administered in the U.K. makes the decision very straightforward.

“Receiving the vaccine is by far the safest choice in terms of minimizing individual risk of serious illness or death,” he said.

vaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spray paint was discovered at Hot Rocks. (Special to The News)
Popular Maple Ridge summer destination vandalized

Rocks discovered with spray paint along South Alouette

Police shut down 240 Street after a single vehicle accident. (The News files)
Maple Ridge man dies following crash

Police believe he went into medical distress before accident

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

Most Read