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AstraZeneca admits for first time that its Covid vaccine might cause thrombosis
Health

AstraZeneca admits for first time that its Covid vaccine might cause thrombosis

The company's vaccine (later renamed Vaxzevria) was the third to arrive in Spain on 6 February 2021, having been authorised by the European Commission on 29 January 2021

Raquel Merino

Malaga

Sunday, 5 May 2024, 23:20

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AstraZeneca's was perhaps one of the biggest controversies following the launch of the global Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Three vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca were the first to bring hope to a population engulfed in a pandemic that kept them confined at home for months and took the lives of millions of people. AstraZeneca's (later renamed Vaxzevria) was the third to arrive in Spain on 6 February 2021, having been authorised by the European Commission on 29 January 2021.

But this vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, was soon linked to cases of "blood clots, often in unusual locations (for example, in the brain, intestines, liver or spleen), along with low blood platelets, in some cases accompanied by haemorrhaging", as admitted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) itself. This became so prevalent that, in 2021, the EMA decided to include in the package leaflet for this vaccine a mention of the side-effects related to coagulation disorders, namely thrombosis syndrome with thrombocytopenia (TTS - blood-clotting with low blood platelets), thrombosis of the veins and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), venous thromboembolism (VTE - blood clots in a vein) and thrombocytopenia. However, the EMA has always maintained that these are "very rare" adverse reactions and that "the benefits of the drug far outweigh any potential risks."

Covid-19 formula side effects

To date AstraZeneca has not commented on the matter. However, as part of a High Court case in which 51 cases of victims and their families claiming up to £100 million in damages from the pharmaceutical company for adverse side-effects with its vaccine, the company has admitted for the first time that its Covid-19 formula can cause side-effects such as thrombosis in "very rare cases". It made this statement in a legal document filed in the UK High Court in February, as reported in The Telegraph.

AstraZeneca continues to deny the plaintiffs' claims, but accepts that the vaccine doses "may, in very rare cases, cause thrombosis". Indeed, the plaintiffs' lawyers argue that the vaccine "has had a devastating effect on a small number of families."

The British newspaper reports that one of the first cases to go to court was that of Jamie Scott, who has been left with a permanent brain injury after suffering a blood clot and haemorrhage in his brain that prevented him from working after receiving AstraZeneca's vaccine in April 2021. In May 2023 AstraZeneca, also by court response, replied that it did not accept the assertion that Scott's medical condition was caused by its vaccine.

Is AstraZeneca still administered in Spain?

As the Spanish government specifies in its Covid-19 vaccination strategy, after changing the recommendations for the use of Vaxzevria (as the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently known) on several occasions, as new data on its effectiveness in the elderly and its possible relationship with certain types of thrombosis became available, the Ministry of Health restarted the roll-out of this vaccine on 24 March 2021.

However, it did so with certain limitations. Its use was recommended only for people aged 60-plus. In fact, for people under 60 years of age who had already received the first dose of Vaxzevria, it was advised to complete vaccine top-ups with either Pfizer or Moderna (Comirnaty) vaccines unless, after signing an informed consent form, the patient agreed to receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

So why is it only given to people over 60 years of age? Because most of the instances of thromboses occurred in under-60s, mainly women, and very rarely did they occur in older people.

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