Canada suspended use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under the age of 55 on Monday due to concerns that it could be linked to rare blood clots.
The break was recommended by the National Immunization Advisory Committee for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer healthcare in the country, announced the suspension on Monday.
“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under the age of 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice chair of the National Immunization Advisory Committee.
Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe suggesting that the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the risk of one in a million previously believed.
He said that the majority of patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under the age of 55, and the mortality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%.
Dr Joss Reimer from the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force said that despite the finding that there was no increased risk of blood clots in general related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious mainly in young women in Europe.
Reimer said that the rare type of blood clot usually occurs between four and 20 days after receiving the injection, and symptoms can reflect a stroke or heart attack.
“While we still believe that the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks, I am not comfortable with ‘probably.’ I want to see more data coming from Europe to know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is, ”said Reimer.
The AstraZeneca injection, which has been licensed in more than 70 countries, is a pillar of a UN-backed project known as Covax that aims to bring Covid vaccines to the poorest countries. It has also become a key tool in European countries’ efforts to boost their slow vaccine launches. That makes questions about the shooting especially troubling.
“This vaccine has had all the ups and downs. It looks like a roller coaster, ”said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, when asked if the latest news will lead to more questions about vaccines.
Health Canada said it has not received any reports of blood clots in Canada, and the department’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said she still believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Last week, the department changed the vaccine’s label to warn of the rare risk of blood clots.
Only those over 60 have received AstraZeneca in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.
“We have no concerns with those who have received it so far,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s medical director.
Several European countries that had suspended use of the vaccine for fear it could cause blood clots re-administered it after the EU’s drug regulator said the vaccine was safe.
The vaccine is widely used in Britain, across the European continent and in other countries, but its launch was hampered by inconsistent study reports on its effectiveness and, more recently, by fear of clots that caused some countries to halt. inoculations temporarily.
Canada is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca from the US this week.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism