European and British health authorities have concluded that the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca outweigh the risks of side effects.
However, the UK’s regulator has said that people under 30 should be offered a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead of Oxford/AstraZeneca.
A review by the drugs regulator MHRA found by the end of March 79 people in the UK suffered rare blood clots after vaccination – 19 of whom died. The regulator said this was not proof the jab had caused the clots, but the link was looking clearer. Over 20,000,0000 AZ vaccines have been given across the UK.
The review has prompted the JCVI, to recommend that people aged 18 to 29 be offered an alternative vaccine where available. People with blood disorders that leave them at risk of clotting should discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with their doctor before going for a jab.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam described the new plans as a ‘change of course’. He said a year ago he wouldn’t believe where the UK’s vaccine rollout would be up to by now or that some changes wouldn’t be made as the rollout began and covered more people. He said it is a change in the clinical advice for under 30s and would require changes to how the NHS handles England’s rollout but that it should have ‘negligible’ effect of the overall vaccine rollout timescale.
Prof Lim from the JCVI said the decision was made ‘acting in the benefit of public safety and benefit’. He added that info being given to people receiving jabs and the professional administering them should be updated, that those who have taken the first dose of AZ vaccine should continue to take the second dose and that adults aged 18-29 should be offered a different jab where possible. Prof Lim said the JCVI ‘is not advising a stop to the rollout’.
The European Medicines Agency has concluded that ‘unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects’ of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine’.
It has said that one plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets was an ‘immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin’.
Emer Cooke of EMA said that based on available evidence, risk factors such as age, gender, or previous history of clotting have not been able to be confirmed. She added that the EMA will continue to monitor the evidence and will issue further guidance when they have more information and that the ‘rare events’ can occur with vaccines that weren’t detected in trials, she says.
Isle of Man
The Manx gov has said it will issue a statement this afternoon as to how the changes affects its rollout.