Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Agency: Clot link to AstraZenec­a

- By Nicole Winfield and Pan Pylas

EU organizati­on says there’s a causal link between the shot and rare blood clots, but connection unclear.

ROME — A top official at the European Medicines Agency says there’s a causal link between AstraZenec­a’s coronaviru­s vaccine and rare blood clots, but that it’s unclear what the connection is and that the benefits of taking the shot still outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19.

Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, told Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper Tuesday that the European Union’s medicines regulator is preparing to make a more definitive statement on the topic this week.

Asked about Cavaleri’s comments, the EMA press office said its evaluation “has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing.”

It said it planned a news conference as soon as the review is finalized, possibly Wednesday or Thursday.

Based on the evidence so far, Cavaleri said there’s a clear associatio­n between the AstraZenec­a vaccine and the dozens of rare blood clots that have been reported worldwide amid the tens of millions of AstraZenec­a shots that have been given out.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to affirm that there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationsh­ip between AstraZenec­a vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with a low level of platelets,” Cavaleri was quoted as saying.

AstraZenec­a did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment. Late in the day, however, the pharmaceut­ical company and Oxford University, which developed the vaccine, announced they were pausing the trial of their jabs in children while British regulators investigat­e the potential blood clot link in adults.

In Geneva, the World Health Organizati­on said its experts were also evaluating a possible link between the AstraZenec­a vaccine and rare blood clots — and that it might have a “fresh, conclusive assessment” before Thursday.

In March, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended using AstraZenec­a over the blood clot issue. Most EU nations restarted March 19 — some with age restrictio­ns — after the EMA said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of not inoculatin­g people against COVID-19. At the time, the EMA recommende­d the vaccine’s leaflet be updated with informatio­n about the rare clots.

Any further doubts about the AstraZenec­a vaccine would be a setback for the shot, which is critical to Europe’s immunizati­on campaign and a linchpin in the global strategy to get vaccines to poorer countries. The AstraZenec­a vaccine is cheaper and easier to use than rival vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and has been endorsed for use in over 50 countries, including by the 27-nation EU and the World Health Organizati­on. U.S. authoritie­s are still evaluating the vaccine.

Cavaleri said while EMA was prepared to declare a link, further study was needed to understand how the phenomenon occurs.

 ?? OLIVER BERG/DPA ?? Dr. Oliver Funken vaccinates Manfred Haas with an AstraZenec­a dose Tuesday in Rheinbach, Germany. Agencies are evaluating a possible blood clot link to the vaccine.
OLIVER BERG/DPA Dr. Oliver Funken vaccinates Manfred Haas with an AstraZenec­a dose Tuesday in Rheinbach, Germany. Agencies are evaluating a possible blood clot link to the vaccine.

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