News Coronavirus Britain backs AZ shot despite ‘vanishingly rare’ blood clotting

Britain backs AZ shot despite ‘vanishingly rare’ blood clotting

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British authorities continue to back the AstraZeneca COVID shot. Photo: Getty
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Britain’s medicine regulator says there have been a further 41 reports of rare blood clots after doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine but benefits of the shot continue to outweigh the risks for most people.

In a weekly update on side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there were 209 clots with low platelet counts following vaccination with AstraZeneca’s shot across the country, compared to a total of 168 reported last week.

There has been scrutiny of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the issue of the very rare clots, with a higher incidence in younger people.

Some countries, including Australia and Britain, have recommended that only people over a certain age get the shot.

There were 41 deaths following the clots in Britain, the MHRA said, an increase of nine from last week’s figures. Experts say historical cases might still be feeding through to the totals and the clots will remain a rare event.

About 22 million first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Britain.

Four cases of rare clotting were reported following a second dose but the MHRA did not say how many second doses had been given.

British authorities have advised that under-30s receive an alternative to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after the MHRA medicine regulator concluded there was evidence of a link to rare clots with low platelet levels. Officials are considering whether to change advice for people under 40 too.

In Australia, the AstraZeneca shot is not recommended for people under 50.

Officials have emphasised the side effect is “vanishingly” rare and advised that most people still get the shots. AstraZeneca has pointed to regulator recommendations that the vaccine is safe and effective.