“Possible” link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, according to the European medicines regulator
The agency still recommends AstraZeneca for adults of all ages, but Britain has suspended it for people under 30.
Canada continues to suspend the product for those under 55, but is reviewing the data.
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Of the 20 million doses administered in the UK so far, 79 people have developed clots. Nineteen of these people died. There is no clear link between the deaths and the vaccine.
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British regulator reports 30 cases of blood clots linked to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Meanwhile, medical experts are learning more about why and how “unusual” clots might occur.
Hamilton’s hematologist and thrombosis doctor says the AstraZeneca vaccine appears to trigger antibodies against platelets, the sticky blood cells that form clots.
“So these antibodies attack a person’s platelets… They activate them and cause the blood to clot,” Pai said.
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The antibodies then destroy the platelets, resulting in a low platelet count seen in some patients after the vaccine.
“There was a very low level of clotting cells (platelets) in some of the patients with these rare clotting complications, which would be a very unusual feature for some of your garden clotting complications,” said Dr Thalia Field at Global News.
The Vancouver stroke neurologist says typical risk factors for blood clots, including damage to blood vessels, hormone replacement therapy and family history, do not appear to play a role in this reaction.
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“It’s not the sort of thing that (doctors) routinely see in people with a history of clots or necessarily other risk factors,” Field said.
Both doctors point out that the risk of severe clots with COVID-19 is always much higher than the possible risk with AstraZeneca.
While even typical blood clots affect one or two in 1,000 people, about one in 200 people with COVID-19 will develop clots.
The risk increases as the person gets sicker – if they are hospitalized, that’s one in 20. And the rate is one in five if they need intensive care.
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COVID-19 can cause inflammation in all organs of the body, and hospitalization means staying in bed for long periods of time, causing blood to pool. Both can cause clots.
“So I would definitely recommend getting the vaccine. We know that COVID is also associated with stroke, it is associated with lung problems, it is associated with chronic fatigue and other thinking problems, ”said Field.
Aviva Rappaport of Vancouver suffered from the same rare bleeding disorder possibly related to the vaccine: cerebral venous thrombosis. It happened out of the blue two years ago, before the pandemic.
“I know it’s a rare type of stroke, so hearing that a vaccine was linked to (cerebral venous thrombosis) was a bit surprising,” Rappaport said.
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The 29-year-old says it took about a year of rehabilitation to feel normal again. She had difficulty speaking and understanding the language.
Despite their daughter’s ordeal, her parents chose to follow the advice of doctors.
“They both got the AstraZeneca vaccine here in British Columbia, even though it’s been linked to this type of stroke and they’ve seen me go through it all,” Rappaport said.
“I have faith and trust in the medical community… and my parents and my sister too.”
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