Age Restrictions on AstraZeneca Shot Have Ended Reports of Rare Clots: UK Scientists

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
August 12, 2021Vaccines
Age Restrictions on AstraZeneca Shot Have Ended Reports of Rare Clots: UK Scientists
A volunteer draws the Astrazeneca vaccine as members of the public have their Covid-19 vaccinations at Fazl Mosque in Southfields in London, England, on June 8, 2021. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDON—No new cases of rare and severe blood clots following vaccination with AstraZeneca’s COVID shot have been reported in Britain in recent weeks after a decision to restrict its use in under-40s, British scientists said on Wednesday.

Vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) is a combination of blood clots and low platelet levels which has been labelled as a rare side effect of the viral vector COVID vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

A higher occurrence of the side-effect in younger people has led to many countries to put age restrictions on AstraZeneca’s shot.

Around 85% of those who suffered rare blood clots after vaccination with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in Britain were under 60 even though more of the shots were given to the elderly, the study found, in one of the fullest characterizations of the syndrome so far.

It found that in those aged under 50, incidence was around 1 in 50,000, in line with previous estimates, and experts said the study reinforced prior understanding of risk-benefit calculation of vaccination.

Sue Pavord, a consultant hematologist at Oxford University Hospitals who led the research, said the incident usually affected young people who were otherwise healthy, and was especially dangerous if it resulted in bleeding in the brain.

But she added that an initial spike of cases of the side-effect had subsided as the impact of Britain’s decision to offer under-40s alternative shots in May filtered through.

“We haven’t seen new cases for the last four weeks or so and this has been a tremendous relief,” she told reporters.

The condition had an overall mortality rate of 23 percent, but that rose to 73 percent in cases with clots in the brain known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), though treatments like blood plasma exchange increased the survival rate for severe cases to 90%.

The researchers said they hoped the study would inform vaccination strategy.

The paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Out of 294 possible cases analysed, 220 were found to be definite or possible cases of VITT, all of which followed the AstraZeneca rather than the Pfizer vaccine.

Multiple clots were found in around one-third of cases, and almost all those hospitalised with the condition experienced it between five to 30 days after a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

J&J’s single-shot vaccine is not being rolled out in Britain.

Reuters contributed to this report.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.