T

he UK medicines regulator has said benefits of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh any risks, but added that under-30s will be offered an alternative jab.

Meanwhile, in a separate update on its investigations on Wednesday, the European medicines watchdog has ruled that unusual blood clots were “very rare side effects” of the jab.

Some European countries have restricted the vaccine’s use in younger people following reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a specific type of clot that prevents blood from draining from the brain, as well as low platelet counts – cells that help blood clot.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said people should follow the regulator’s advice and keep getting their jabs.

– What have the regulators said?

A review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) safety committee concluded on Wednesday that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, said: “These are very rare side effects.

“The risk of mortality from Covid is much greater than risk of mortality from these side effects.”

The MHRA said there were still huge benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 and serious disease but added that due to a very small number of blood clots in younger people, those under the age of 30 will be offered Pfizer or Moderna jabs instead.

Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, added: “Anyone who has symptoms four days after vaccination or more should seek prompt medical advice – a new onset of a severe or persistent headache or blurred vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain or indeed unusual skin bruising or pin-point spots beyond the injection site.”

– How many people have been affected?

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine / PA Wire

Up to March 31, the MHRA has received 79 reports of blood clots accompanied by low blood platelet count, all in people who had their first dose of the vaccine.

Of these 79, a total of 19 people have died, although it has not been established what the cause was in every case.

The 79 cases occurred in 51 women and 28 men, aged from 18 to 79.

Of the 19 who died, three were under the age of 30, the MHRA said. Some 14 of those cases were CVST while the other five were thrombosis.



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