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AstraZeneca vaccine: Blood clots after jab are very rare, says EU regulator

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The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee launched a review into the Oxford vaccine (Picture: PA)

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, but unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as a ‘very rare side effect’, a review by the European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has concluded.

EU experts have assured the public the ‘benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks’, saying the jab is ‘effective at preventing Covid and reducing hospitalisations and deaths’.

They have urged people to continue getting immunised, saying ‘it is extremely important in helping us in the fight against Covid-19’.

It comes as the UK regulator proposes giving under-30s an alternative vaccine to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

Executive director Emer Cooke told a Brussels press briefing today: ‘Covid-19 is a very serious disease with high hospitalisation and death rates and everyday Covid is still causing thousands of deaths across the EU.

‘This vaccine has proven to be highly effective – it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation, and it is saving lives.

‘Vaccination is extremely important in helping us in the fight against Covid-19 and we need to use the vaccines we have to protect us from the devastating effects.

‘The PRAC, after a very in-depth analysis, has concluded that the reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine.’

The investigation was launched after 62 cases of clots in the brain and 24 cases of clots in the abdomen were reported from around 25 million people who had the jab before March 22. Eighteen of these people died.

EU rules Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is safe

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A woman receives a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at Lichfield cathedral (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Most of the blood clot cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within 14 days of immunisation.

However, no specific risk factors have been identified based on current evidence.

The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee said the blood clots reported had been found in veins in the brain, the abdomen and arteries, combined with low levels of blood platelets and sometimes bleeding.

Symptoms associated with the illness include shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in the leg and persistent abdominal pain.

Other people may experience severe headaches, blurred vision and tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the area where the injection was administered.

Anyone who displays these symptoms should seek medical attention, the EMA said.

Germany and the Netherlands suspended routine use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people aged below 60 last week.

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