Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The European Medicines Agency has said that blood clots should be added as a possible adverse side effect of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The recommendation was made after a review of 63 cases of reported blood clots that developed moments after receiving the vaccine from several European countries. The majority of the cases were among females below 60 years of age, some aged 24, who developed clots after receiving their first vaccine jab.
Originally, the developers of the vaccine only listed headaches, fevers, swelling at the injection site, body weakness, chills and even nausea as possible side effects of the vaccine. Last month, the World Health Organisation and the agency both said that there was no proof that the vaccine was the cause of the blood clots. But now, Dr Sabine Straus, the chairperson of the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medical Agency says blood clots should be added to the possible side effects of the vaccine to enable countries to handle them well.
“From the evidence that we have, it is important to note that the use of the benefits of using the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks but we recommend that blood clots be added to possible side effects of the vaccine,” She said. According to Straus, they believe blood clots occur as an immune response to the vaccine.
“Available data doesn’t allow us to discover the plausible cause of the vaccine side effects but we believe it could be an immune response to the vaccine. Such side effects are also seen in patients treated using heparin,” she said.
Over 70 million people worldwide have been vaccinated using this vaccine. The scientists say from the reports they have received, at least 1 in every 100,000 vaccinated people might develop a blood clot after receiving the vaccine. Scientists from the medicines agency recommend that doctors treat any blood clots that might arise as they see fit.
Uganda chose the AstraZeneca vaccine due to its low price and easy storage compared to other vaccines. As of today, over 130,000 people have reviewed the vaccine in the country. Records from the health ministry show that no blood clots have been reported as a side effect of the vaccine. However, they have received reports of headaches, swelling at the injection site, body weakness and fever.
Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization( UNEPI) last week said they would continue using the vaccine as they monitor for any side effects. ” We need the vaccine. More people have died globally from COVID-19 than from receiving the vaccine. We shall continue using the vaccine as we monitor to see what happens,” he said.
Dr Driwale urges persons who have been vaccinated and experience severe side effects to seek medical care as soon as possible.
In countries like the U.K, people under the age of 30 will be given another vaccine. The country will be using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine among persons in this age group.