UK reports 32 deaths from clots after AstraZeneca jabs

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Multiple countries in Europe have suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. /Joel Saget/AFP
SENFTENBERG, GERMANY – MARCH 03: A nurse holds a vile of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during the inoculation of patients at a private medical practice as part of a pilot project in the state of Brandenburg during the coronavirus pandemic on March 03, 2021 in Senftenberg, Germany. Several German states are allowing vaccinations against COVID-19 to begin in a limited number of private medical practices with the aim of expanding venues that offer the vaccines beyond the current mass vaccination centers. While Germany’s vaccination rollout has been hampered by less than anticipated shipments of vaccine, the volume of shipments has begun increasing, leading to higher weekly numbers of vaccinations. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A total of 168 people have suffered rare blood clots after taking the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Britain, and 32 have died, the UK’s medicines regulator said Thursday.

The figures for clots or “thromboembolic events” run-up to April 14, by when 21.2 million people had received their first doses of the vaccine, according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It represents a rise of 10 deaths compared to the period up to April 5, and an additional 68 cases.

“On the basis of this ongoing review, the advice remains that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks in the majority of people,” the MHRA said.

Acting on the regulator’s advice, the UK government this month agreed to offer most people under 30 an alternative to the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab if possible, due to concerns over blood clots.

Of the 168 cases in the latest summary, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST or blood clots in the brain) was reported in 77 cases, with an average age of 47.

A further 91 cases had other “major thromboembolic events” along with thrombocytopenia — low platelet counts — with an average age of 55.

Overall, 93 women and 75 men suffered clots after receiving the vaccine.

“I would expect the true number of cases per million doses of vaccine to become clear fairly soon as these reports stabilise, but it is already clear that it is going to remain a very rare event,” University of Bristol paediatrics professor Adam Finn said.

Britain has Europe’s highest death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic but since the mass vaccination drive began with the AstraZeneca jab in December, rates of infection, hospitalization and death have plummeted.

The coronavirus was no longer the leading cause of death in March, according to separate data released by the Office for National Statistics.

It said that Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in England last month, dropping from the top spot for the first time since October.

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