UK regulator reports blood clots linked to Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

The U.K.’s drug safety regulator has identified more cases of thrombosis related to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, bringing the total to 30 — though it says the benefits of the shot still far outweigh the risks.

The country is mainly relying on the shot to carry out its vaccination program so far, where it is leading most of Europe. As of March 18, it had reported only five cases of thrombosis, the blood clotting disorder that has worried regulators throughout the EU.

But the latest report, published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) late Thursday, said that as of March 24 it had received 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, as well as 8 reports of other thrombosis events, out of 18.1 million doses administered.

“The number and nature of suspected adverse reactions reported so far are not unusual in comparison to other types of routinely used vaccines,” the MHRA wrote.

“On the basis of this ongoing review, the benefits of the vaccines [both AstraZeneca and BioNTech/Pfizer] against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so,” it added.

The report puts the U.K. more in line with other European countries that have logged thrombosis, sometimes fatal, as a potential side effect of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Germany, for example, has reported 31 suspected cases, leading it to suspend use of the vaccine in those under the age of 60. The vaccination committee at the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control agency, is now recommending that people below the age of 60 who have already received a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine be given a second dose of an mRNA vaccine such as BioNTech/Pfizer instead to complete their course of shots.

MHRA said that there were no reports of thrombosis-related events for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

However, it added that “the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so.”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 

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