LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s health regulator said Thursday said it had not found any direct links between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and blood clots after a slew of countries halted the shot over health fears.
The agency also said there were no ties linking clots and the Pfizer vaccine, and incidents were no higher in vaccinated groups than among the unvaccinated.
“There is no evidence that blood clots in veins is occurring more than would be expected in the absence of vaccination, for either vaccine,” said June Raine, chief executive of the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The announcement came as Europe’s medical regulator was set to give its verdict on the safety of the AstraZeneca jab against coronavirus, after several nations suspended its use.
Britain has ordered some 100 million doses of the jab, which was developed with scientists from Oxford University, and it forms the mainstay of the mass vaccination campaign.
The MHRA was the first regulator to approve the use of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines in the general population.
Since early December last year, more than half the country’s adult population — some 25 million people — have received a first dose.
Eleven million have received the AstraZeneca jab.
The MHRA said it reached its conclusion after a rigorous examination of the available data, including reported cases of blood clots in veins, hospital admissions and doctors’ records.
The government’s independent advisory group, the Commission on Human Medicines, had come to the same assessment.
Britain’s government and medical establishment have robustly defended the safety of the vaccines, amid fears European hesitancy could have an impact on its take-up.
Raine said MHRA advice remained that “the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks of potential side effects”.
The public should get a jab when they are called, she added in a statement.
“We have received a very small number of reports of an extremely rare form of blood clot in the cerebral veins (sinus vein thrombosis, or CSVT) occurring together with lowered platelets soon after vaccination,” she said.
“This type of blood clot can occur naturally in people who have not been vaccinated, as well as in those suffering from COVID-19.”