Blood clots ‘linked to AstraZeneca vaccine’ are more likely caused by Covid itself, says scientist
BLOOD clots linked to AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine are more likely caused by Covid-19 itself, a scientist has claimed.
Twenty countries have now paused the rollout of the vaccine amid fears of blood clots.
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave an update on its analysis of blood clotting cases today, announcing there was no direct link with the jab.
EMA executive director Emer Cooke said the cases of blood clots in recently vaccinated people was still being analysed "tirelessly" by a range of experts.
Scientists in the UK have now claimed that the blood clots seen in patients who had recently had the vaccine could have been a sign of Covid-19 – meaning they may have either been infected with the virus when they had the jab – or had previously overcome it.
Prof Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine explained that the problems seen in blood clots are likely to be from the virus itself – rather than the vaccine designed to prevent serious infection from the virus.
He said: “It still remains the case that a very likely explanation of at least some of the clotting disorders seen are a result of Covid-19 rather than the vaccine."
Prof Evans highlighted that at first, experts had raised concerns relating to blood clotting in general particularly in stroke patients.
He added: "These are very well known effects of the virus that causes Covid-19.
"More recent concerns have related to another type of blood coagulations disorder called thrombocytopenia.
"This also is well known to occur in patients who get Covid-19".
Prof Evans said there was "no doubt" that all vaccines currently in use prevent Covid-19, and added that it's still better to have the vaccine than to not have it.
So far in the UK over 24.4 million Brits have had a first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, with over 1.6 million also having had a second dose.
Around 11 million people have received the AstraZeneca jab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the vaccine and said it was both safe and effective.
Prof Evan's comments come after numerous studies found links between blood clots and Covid-19.
A the start of the pandemic, medics said they witnessed an increase in stroke cases in people in their 30s and 40s who either had mild or no Covid-19 symptoms at all.
Other studies have also shown that the virus starves the brain of air and blocking blood flow.
Scans taken from Covid patients have also shown blood clots as well as symptoms such as strokes, seizures, encephalitis-like symptoms and blood clots, as well as tingling or numbness in the extremities, called acroparesthesia.
Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Reading, Prof Jonathan Gibbins said it's important to not cause panic around the reports of blood clots.
He said: "There is substantial evidence that severe Covid-19 infection is associated with a high risk of blood clots, so it may be the case that people are more at risk from not being vaccinated.
"We will need to see the detailed data to assess this properly, but at this point we need to be careful not to cause unwarranted panic or resistance to vaccination."
One expert also today calculated the risk of a patients getting the vaccine, also developing a blood clot.
Sterghios A. Moschos, associate professor at Northumbria University, said the chance you’ll get a blood clot from the vaccine is 0.00021 per cent.
He also highlighted that the chance of getting a blot clot if you develop Covid-19 is around two per cent.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab today issued a full-throated defence of the Oxford-invented shot after more than half of Member States including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, temporarily stopped its use over blood clot fears.
Mr Raab said: "Different countries have different approaches but I can tell you crystal clear the UK regulator, the EU regulator, and the WHO all say that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and people should continue to take it.
"It is safe, people should get the vaccine. It has been very clear from the MHRA, the UK regulator, that the risks of taking the vaccine are no more than, in terms of for example blood clots, than the population at large.
"There is no extra risk on the evidence that we've seen, which is why they have authorised the vaccine and haven't taken any further action.
"We respect the process and procedures that some other countries may need to go through but the vaccine is safe and people should certainly continue to take it and to protect themselves and their friends and family."
The MHRA issued a statement last week saying more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered across the UK with no issues.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said there was "no demonstrable difference" between the two groups.
He told BBC Breakfast: "We have to remember that there are 3,000 blood clots a month on average in the general population and because we're immunising so many people, we are bound to see blood clots at the same time as the vaccination, and that's not because they are due to the vaccination. That's because they occur naturally in the population."
AstraZeneca said it had found no increased risk of blood clots in the 17 million people who had received the jab in Euope when compared with the general population.
Of 17 million, fewer than 40 adults had suffered blood clots, the company said.
The World Health Organisation said no causal link had been established between the vaccine and blood clotting.
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