Canada Suspends Use of AstraZeneca Covid Jab for Those Under 55

The debate over the safety of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine is alive and well, with Canada now suspending the use of the jab for people under 55. Earlier this month, Health Canada (the country’s health department) said that “the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks”. But, following a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the rollout of the jab is now being limited due to concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The Guardian has the story.

Canada on Monday suspended the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots.

The pause was recommended by the NACI for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday.

“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, Vice-Chair of the NACI.

Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.

She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%.

Earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the AZ Covid vaccine is “safe and effective”, but that it cannot “rule out definitively” the vaccine’s link to a rare clotting disorder. The Telegraph reported:

The EMA has said they “cannot rule out definitively” a link to a rare clotting disorder.

The agency will update its guidance to include an explanation about the potential risks on both the patient leaflet and in the information for healthcare professionals, the chief of the EMA said.

A Canadian health official has said that more data is needed before the rollout of the AZ vaccine can be considered definitely safe – not just “probably” safe – for those under the age of 55. The Guardian reports:

Dr Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation taskforce said despite the finding that there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious side-effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe.

Reimer said the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days after getting the shot and the symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack.

“While we still believe the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks I’m not comfortable with ‘probably’. I want to see more data coming out of Europe so I know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is,” Reimer said.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Germany is set to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under the age of 60 over concerns it may cause potentially fatal blood clots.

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