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

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada leader, answered questions during a Terrace District Chamber of Commerce event on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Erin O’Toole discusses Terrace issues during virtual event

Federal Conservative leader answered questions during a Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce event

Tree; Burns Lake library. (Laura Blackwell photo/Lakes District News)
Dragon Tree christened

The Burns Lake Public Library contest for dragon and tree names has… Continue reading

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

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

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Most Read