Daily Times (Primos, PA)

UK advises limiting AstraZenec­a in under-30s amid clot worry

- By Maria Cheng, Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless

LONDON » British authoritie­s recommende­d Wednesday that the AstraZenec­a COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthen­ing evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

The recommenda­tion came as regulators in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authoritie­s recommende­d that people under 30 be offered alternativ­es to AstraZenec­a. But the EMA advised no such age restrictio­ns, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine, and any restrictio­ns are closely watched since the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunizati­on campaigns and is a pillar of the U.N.-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This is a course correction, there’s no question about that,” Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said during a news briefing.

Van-Tam said the effect on Britain’s vaccinatio­n timetable — one of the speediest in the world — should be “zero or negligible,” assuming the National Health Service receives expected deliveries of other vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

EU and U.K. regulators held simultaneo­us news conference­s Wednesday to announce the results of investigat­ions into reports of blood clots that sparked concern about the rollout of the AstraZenec­a vaccine.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects. Dr Sabine Straus, chair of its Safety Committee, said the best data was from Germany, where there was one report of the clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The agency said most of the cases reported were in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccinatio­n, though it was unable to identify specific risk factors

based on current informatio­n. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the U.K., where around

25 million people have received the AstraZenec­a vaccine.

“The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects,” said Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director.

Arlett said there is no informatio­n suggesting an increased risk from the other major COVID-19 vaccines.

In a statement, AstraZenec­a said both UK and EU regulators had requested their vaccine labels be updated to warn of these “extremely rare potential side effect(s).”

“Both of these reviews reaffirmed the vaccine offers a high-level of protection against all severities of COVID-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks,” it said.

The EMA’s investigat­ion focused on unusual types of blood clots that have occurred along with low blood platelets. One rare clot type appears in multiple blood vessels and the other in veins that drain blood from the brain.

 ?? MATTHIAS SCHRADER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE ?? In this Monday, March 22, 2021 file photo medical staff prepares an AstraZenec­a coronaviru­s vaccine during preparatio­ns at the vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany. British authoritie­s recommende­d Wednesday, April 7, that the AstraZenec­a COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30where possible because of strengthen­ing evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots. The recommenda­tion came as regulators both in the U.K. and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people.
MATTHIAS SCHRADER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE In this Monday, March 22, 2021 file photo medical staff prepares an AstraZenec­a coronaviru­s vaccine during preparatio­ns at the vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany. British authoritie­s recommende­d Wednesday, April 7, that the AstraZenec­a COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30where possible because of strengthen­ing evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots. The recommenda­tion came as regulators both in the U.K. and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people.

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