The UK medicines regulator concluded on Wednesday that adults under 30 should be offered an alternative to the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, after examining cases of rare blood clots.
Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, described the move as “a course correction” for the British vaccination program, meaning young adults will be offered alternative vaccines instead.
June Raine, chief executive officer of the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the benefits continue to outweigh the risks “for the vast majority of people.” She said more work is needed to definitively identify whether the vaccine is the cause of rare blood clots in young adults.
“The balance between benefits and risks is very favorable for the elderly, but it is more finely balanced for the younger ones,” she said.
Out of more than 20 million doses administered, there have been 79 reports of suspected blood clots with low platelets up to and including March 31. Nineteen people died, three of whom were under 30. Cases have occurred in 51 women and 28 men aged 18 to 79.
Raine said 14 of the 19 fatal cases were cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), with low platelets, and five were other types of thrombosis in the main veins.
Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization, said adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who do not have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness should preferably be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine. to the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, “when such an alternative vaccine is available”.
To date, the UK has administered over 37 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including jabs from BioNTech / Pfizer and Oxford / AstraZeneca (31.6 million first doses and nearly 5.5 million second injections). About three out of five shots are from AstraZeneca.
As of April 6, a total of 126,882 people have died from coronavirus in the UK
The MHRA’s announcement came as the European Medicines Agency concluded its latest review of blood clots and the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine this afternoon. He did not restrict the use of the vaccine, while noting that there is a “possible link” to “very rare” cases of blood clotting.
Europe has distributed around 40 million doses of the vaccine. Last week, the EMA said there had been 44 cases of blood clots in the brain in the European Economic Area as of March 22. The agency then concluded that the benefits of using the vaccine outweighed the risks.
In Europe, the vaccine has been restricted to older populations in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, North Macedonia and Finland. Denmark and Norway have completely suspended its use. Elsewhere, it has been restricted to the elderly in Canada, while the United States has yet to approve the use of the vaccine.