EU backs AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as reviews into blood clots continue

FILE PHOTO: A member of the medical staff administers the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a colleague at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, near Paris, France, February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

(Reuters) – Europe’s drug regulator reiterated on Friday that benefits of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any risks, as part of a detailed guidance from ongoing reviews into rare blood clots to help individual nations determine the shot’s use.

The renewed backing comes after several countries in the European Union and worldwide have limited the use of the vaccine, known as Vaxzevria, while Denmark has stopped its use altogether, after possible links to clotting issues were confirmed.

The interim analysis by a committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) determined that serious side effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in 1 out of 100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the EMA said it had found a possible link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and a similar, rare blood clotting problem connected to the one from Johnson & Johnson which led to a small number of deaths.

There was not enough data on Vaxzevria from Europe to determine if blood clot risks with low blood platelets would differ with each dose of the vaccine, or to provide context on its benefits and risks with regards to sex, the EMA said.

Countries are also in the midst of determining whether to use J&J’s vaccine over concerns of blood clots. Regulators have found these events occurred mostly in the brain and abdomen.

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