Europe's drug regulator on Wednesday found a possible link between AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clotting issues in adults who had received the shot and said it had taken into consideration all available evidence.
“One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.
Meanwhile. a government committee in the UK advising on coronavirus vaccinations has said people under the age of 30 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Altogether, 79 such cases have been reported in the country.
“Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old who do not have an underlying health condition... should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where such an alternative vaccine is available," Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said.
The University of Oxford also said it had paused a small UK trial testing the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca in children and teenagers, as it waits for more data on rare blood clotting issues in adults who received the shot.
The university, which helped develop the embattled vaccine, said in a statement that there were “no safety concerns” in the trial, but acknowledged fears over a potential link to clots by saying that it was awaiting additional data from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before restarting the study.
It is also a blow to AstraZeneca, which was a frontrunner in the race for making an effective vaccine against Covid-19 ever since it began working with the University of Oxford.
The EMA's safety committee, which was assessing the vaccine, has requested for more studies and changes to the current ones to get more information.
The warning could threaten the European Union’s vaccination campaign, which was just beginning to kick into a higher gear after a sluggish start.
The latest assessment of the Astra vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford, comes amid increasing public wariness about the shot, with patients from Bucharest to Calais canceling scheduled appointments as they await more clarity.
Concerns are growing that the setback with the Astra shot could mean the UK misses its target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, although the government insists it remains on track.
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