Two weeks ago a number of European countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain suspended use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients. They joined Denmark, Ireland, Thailand, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Congo and Bulgaria in what is viewed as another setback for the European Union’s vaccination drive.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) found a number of “very rare cases” of “unusual blood clots” reported in patients who also had low levels of blood platelets (which help the blood clot) — and that the majority of these cases were in women under 55.
The review specifically investigated seven cases of blood clots in multiple blood vessels right throughout the body (DIC) and 18 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), nine of which resulted in death.
The EMA’s review found that the number of blood clots (469 reports, 191 in Europe) reported after the vaccination was “lower than that expected in the general population”, leading it to conclude that there’s no “overall risk of blood clots” related to the AstraZeneca jab.
Most countries have resumed the rollout of the vaccine however Norway and Finland have kept the jab on hold for now. Britain, Canada and Australia did not suspend the vaccine but late last week Australia’s advisory group on vaccines recommended the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine be deferred for people who have a history of specific rare blood clotting disorders.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said “for the time being, ATAGI recommends that vaccination with any COVID-19 vaccine should be deferred for people who have a history of … rare conditions.” It listed the rare conditions as people with a confirmed medical history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and people with a confirmed medical history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). ABC
This does not make a lot of sense as the reported cases are amongst the younger demographic and it is likely that this is a new occurrence and those people will not have a medical history of blood clotting disorders.
Greinacher and his team analyzed 13 cases of cerebral blood clots reported in Germany within 4 – 16 days of administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Twelve of the 13 cases were women and almost all were under the age of 55. In four of the 12 patients, the team was able to isolate and identify the specific antibodies that provoked the immune reaction leading to the cerebral blood clots.
What the researchers discovered was that the vaccine caused the activation of platelets in the same way that they are activated when there is a wound to heal with a clot forming around the area closing the wound. A Norwegian team is also investigating cases of blood clots that occurred post vaccination, this time in healthcare workers under 50 years of age. They are confident that the problem lies with the vaccine.
“Our theory is that this is a strong immune response that most likely comes after the vaccine,” Holme said. “There is no other thing than the vaccine that can explain this immune response,” Holme said. It’s the same theory that Greinacher and his colleagues have put forward in Germany.