UK medicines regulator to give update on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine at 3pm today amid blood clot fears

UK medicines regulator to give update on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine at 3pm today amid blood clot fears

04/07/2021

THE UK's medicines regulator is set to give an update on the use of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine at 3pm today.

It comes after blood clot fears saw the company pause its trials on teens and children.

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A briefing from Downing Street this afternoon ill be led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA, Sir Munir Pirmohamed Chair of the Committee of Human Medicines, and Professor Wei Shen, chair of the JCVI.

They are expected to address concerns of blood clots in younger people who have had the Oxford jab.

The MHRA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have both said there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine has caused these rare blood clots, although they are continuing to monitor the situation.

While a definitive link cannot be ruled out, the regulators said the benefits of having the vaccine far outweigh any potential risks.

It comes as:

  • AstraZeneca Covid vaccine rollout to under-50s should be HALTED, says adviser – as trial in kids is paused
  • Covid plague ‘spawning super-mutations every week'
  • First Moderna vaccine dose given in UK as unpaid carer, 24, gets coronavirus jab in Wales
  • Everything you need to know about the AstraZeneca jab

The MHRA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have both said there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine has caused these rare blood clots, although they are continuing to monitor the situation.

While a definitive link cannot be ruled out, the regulators said the benefits of having the vaccine far outweigh any potential risks.

The MHRA previously stressed the risk was “very small” and the benefits of the vaccines against Covid outweigh any risks”.

And the World Health Organisation (WHO) insisted there was "no link" between the jab and blood clots, with experts urging people to still get their vaccine.

Last night the University of Oxford paused trials of its AstraZeneca vaccine on children and teenagers over concerns of the risk in young people.

A probe has been launched to make sure the jab is completely safe before the trials restart.

Over than 31.6million adults have now had their Covid vaccine, as it looks likely Downing Street will hit the goal of jabbing all over-50s by April 15.  

But fears over the link between the AZ vaccine and clots developing in younger people could see the speed of the rollout take a hit – although it is thought Moderna's shot could instead be used primarily in people under 30.

It comes after Marco Cavaleri told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper on Tuesday: "In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine. But we still do not know what causes this reaction.

He added: "Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis… among young people than we would have expected."

Thirty cases of the rare blood clotting have been seen in the UK, as of April 2, of the Oxford vaccine.

Of those, 22 are the rare CVST kind of clot that caused concern in Europe, and eight were other thrombosis events.

That is out of 18.1million doses administered in the UK – making it extremely rare at around one in 600,000.

Blood clots happen for a wide range of reasons, with around 3,000 people a month in the UK suffering them.

Even taking the contraceptive pill makes you two or three times more likely to develop a clot.

Prof Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol said that more information needs to be given on the people who suffered with the blood clots and how their illnesses came about.

Asked if different vaccines could end up being used for certain groups as more vaccine types come on stream, Prof Finn told BBC Breakfast: "That's certainly possible.

"We are seeing another vaccine coming in (Moderna), and further vaccines are approaching licensure, and I know that the UK has made contracts for quite a wide range of different vaccines.

"As time goes forward, we will have much more flexibility about who can be offered what.

"On the other hand, we do need to keep the programme going if the plan to open things up and allow things to get back to normal is to proceed without another wave of the pandemic coming through.

"So it's quite a tricky balancing act here, getting the balance right, getting vaccines coming through… getting the risk-benefit right for people coming forward."

He added: "The risks of death and serious illness from Covid-19 are therefore much greater for all these people than any possible risks due to vaccination.

"In short, if you are currently being offered a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, your chances of remaining alive and well will go up if you take the vaccine and will go down if you don’t."

The Government has not confirmed when Moderna will be rolled out in England, even though the vaccine is already in use in Wales.

The UK has bought 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine – enough for 8.5 million people.

Jabs are being given out at West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, with Elle Taylor, a 24-year-old unpaid carer for her grandmother, becoming the first UK citizen to receive the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday morning.

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