UK limits AstraZeneca to people aged over 30

Photo: EPA

British medical regulators restricted the roll-out of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to people aged over 30 on Wednesday, dpa reported. The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said people aged 18 to 29 who do not have an underlying health condition will now be recommended other vaccines instead.

MHRA investigated 79 cases of rare blood clots following vaccination with the drug in Britain. There were 19 deaths, with young people and women disproportionately affected.

Each person who died had either cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with thrombocytopenia - which stops blood draining from the brain properly - or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, which occurs in major veins.

More than 18 million people have received a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in Britain so far.

EU regulators also saw a link between unusual clotting and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant's coronavirus shot in "very rare" cases, but upheld their endorsement of the drug's use for all adults in the European Union.

The World Health Organization (WHO) similarly backed the drug, saying that while a link with thrombosis seemed plausible according to the current data, it was not yet confirmed. Further studies are needed to investigate the possible link, the WHO vaccination committee said.

Dr June Raine - head of Britain's MHRA - said the risk of blood clotting in people who receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is about four people in a million and the benefits outweigh the risks for the vast majority. “We are not advising a stop to any vaccination for any individual in any age group," Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI, added.

Meanwhile Germany's permanent vaccination commission Stiko said it would stick to its recommendation of giving the vaccine only to people over 60.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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