The U.K. has recorded 30 cases of rare blood clotting events after the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s drug regulator announced on Thursday evening but insisted that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh any possible risks, unlike other countries in Europe who have either suspended or restricted the use of the vaccine due to the rare adverse incidents.
In its weekly summary, U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) noted, it had received 22 reports of rare brain blood clots and 8 reports of other blood clotting events out of a total of 18.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered as of March 24.
The agency also said it had not received any reports of clotting events following the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which has also been rolled out on a large scale in the country.
The regulator concluded that the overall safety of both vaccines have so far been as expected and the benefits of both vaccines in preventing Covid-19 “far outweigh any known side effects.”
35.6 million. That’s the total number of vaccine doses that the U.K. has administered so far with about 60% of its adult population receiving at least one dose according to the U.K. government’s tracker. While this makes it one of the widest rollouts of the vaccine anywhere in the world, it comes with a major caveat as the country has been prioritizing first doses and only 8% of its adult population has been fully inoculated.
Despite clotting incidents being rare, the new U.K. data is likely to raise concerns about the growing links between the AstraZeneca shot and the rare type of blood clotting event. Reports of similar events have led to France, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Finland recommending that younger people (mostly below the age of 60) avoid the shot as they are much more likely to be affected by the condition. In Norway and Denmark, the AstraZeneca shot remains suspended. Last month, following an extensive review the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded the vaccine was safe and effective and ruled out a broad link to blood clotting. But the investigation was not able to conclusively rule out a link between some extremely rare types of clotting.
The main cause of worry behind the shot has been rare cases of blood clots forming in the veins that run from the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a potentially fatal condition. Aside from this there have also been cases of thrombocytopenia where the platelet count in the patients blood drops, resulting in heavy bleeding. Norway has reported six cases of the rare clotting issue among 120,000 recipients of the shot, resulting in four deaths. Germany has reported 31 such cases after 2.7 million vaccinations, which has led to nine deaths.