Scientists at the Germany-based Paul-Ehrlich-Institut report that the blood clots observed in some of those vaccinated are a “special form of very rare cerebral vein thrombosis”. This corresponds to a deficiency in platelets and bleeding following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendations from the institute were the reason Germany put on hold ongoing vaccinations until a full review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EMA last week said that several cases of immune thrombocytopenia, a lack of platelets in the blood that can lead to bleeding and bruising, had been reported under its vaccine safety monitoring process.
Several EU countries — France and Italy for instance — have called a halt to the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports from Denmark and Norway of possible serious side-effects, including bleeding and blood clots.
EU nations suspend use
Denmark was the first country to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 11 as a precautionary measure. Iceland and Norway followed suit.
Last Friday, Bulgaria suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as it probed caused the death of a woman with several underlying conditions who was inoculated. Sweden and Latvia, too, have suspended use.
The blood clots observed post vaccination, however, are less than the background number of such thrombosis events even without vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled out any link between AstraZeneca’s vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and reported blood clots.
“We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
India also is reliant on Covishield, which is based on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and forms the bulk of the nearly 30 million vaccines that have been so far administered to the population. However, officials say no instances of such blood clots have been reported so far.
“I would wait for the complete report from the EMA on the nature of these blood clots. Whether it is a ‘special form’ or a rare one needs to be analysed but so far there’s no valid reason to take steps to halt the drive in India,” said Samiran Panda, Head, Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases Division, Indian Council of Medical Research.