Coronavirus: Dr Zoe on symptoms of rare brain blood clot
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The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been mired in controversy ever since it first started making its way into different populations. The furore followed reports of an extremely rare but serious condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after AstraZeneca vaccination. However, the chances of developing the blood clot complication remain infinitesimal and a new study suggests you are no more likely to develop it after getting the AstraZeneca jab than you are after the Pfizer jab.
A new study, which spans multiple countries, found that patients developed blood clotting conditions after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a “similar” rate to those who received the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, say researchers.
A team of researchers from Spain, the UK and the Netherlands compared data from over 1.3 million people vaccinated against COVID in Catalonia, looking for evidence of blood clotting conditions that developed after they received their vaccinations.
“In this study including 1,372,213 people vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, similar safety profiles were seen for both vaccines,” the researchers wrote in their pre-print paper, which has not been peer-reviewed.
The study also reinforced the far greater risks posed by not getting vaccinated.
They found that people who had been infected with COVID-19 developed blood clots at a far higher rate than those who had received either of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
The early stage findings come after a tumultuous period for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Many countries have stock of the vaccine sitting in fridges, for fear that the vaccine could pose a public health risk
The fear has been to some extent reinforced after prominent health bodies conducted investigations into the vaccine’s link to blood clots.
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In April, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there was a “possible link” between the vaccine and “very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets”.
Following the discovery, many countries around the world stalled the rollout or cancelled their campaign altogether.
In the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) revised its policy on who should receive the jab.
Weighing up the risks and benefits, it decided younger cohorts should opt for an alternative vaccine.
Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AstraZeneca because the risk from COVID-19 infection is so low.
“If you are offered the AstraZeneca vaccination you may wish to go ahead after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you,” says Public Health England (PHE).
According to the PHE, if you have already had a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine without suffering this rare side effect, you should complete the course.
This includes people aged 18 to 39 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed.
It is expected that the first dose of the vaccine will have given you some protection, particularly against severe disease.
Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine?
All adults aged 18 or over can now get vaccinated against COVID-19.
You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.
If you were contacted but have not booked your appointments, you’re still eligible and can book your appointments anytime.
The COVID-19 vaccines currently available are given in two doses.
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