UK Covid live: medicines regulator holds briefing over links between AstraZeneca jab and rare blood clots

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Under-30s in UK should be offered alternative Covid vaccine to AstraZeneca jab, says regulator

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Johnson says AstraZeneca vaccine ‘safe’

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Why EMA has decided all age groups should continue to use AstraZeneca jab

More from the EMA’s safety committee which has concluded that while the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be used to all age groups that unusual blood clots, with low blood platelets should be listed as a very rare side effect.

Those administered vaccine should be made aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination.

Most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination. Based on the currently available evidence, specific risk factors have not been confirmed.

The blood clots occurred in veins in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, CVST) and the abdomen (splanchnic vein thrombosis) and in arteries, together with low levels of blood platelets and sometimes bleeding.

The committee carried out an in-depth review of 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021, 18 of which were fatal. The cases came mainly from spontaneous reporting systems of the EEA and the UK, where around 25 million people had received the vaccine.

The EMA said the reported combination of blood clots and low blood platelets was very rare, and the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.

One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin (heparin induced thrombocytopenia, HIT), they say.

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EMA says people should keep using AstraZeneca jab because benefits outweigh risks

The European Medicines Agency has confirmed that the “overall benefit-risk remains positive” for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab despite rare cases of blood clots.

The EMA guidance states that patients must be made aware of possible side effects. They say that “unusual blood clots should be listed as very rare side effects”.

A press conference is due to start shortly.

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Joint MHRA/JCVI press conference on AstraZeneca vaccine

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What MHRA has said in the past about AstraZeneca vaccine and very rare blood clots

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George Galloway has denied that his latest party – All for Unity, which is standing pro-union list candidates in the forthcoming Holyrood elections – is irrelevant, after polling under 2% in a new STV News/Ipsos MORI poll.

Launching a manifesto which included the idea of a confirmatory vote by region should Scotland end up voting for independence, Galloway said:

If we were irrelevant, none of you would be here and the Conservative party in particular would not be having a collective nervous breakdown.

Galloway, who has previously said that he would never share a platform with a Tory, is now encouraging people to vote for the Conservatives in the constituency poll and then All for Unity on the regional list. Challenged about this volte face, he said:

That was then and this is now. The danger of the break up of the country now is more acute.

He also warned that, if Alex Salmond – who is likewise standing list-only candidates with his new pro-independence Alba party – is elected then Scotland will take “the road to Catalonia”. He went on:

This election is effectively – if we lose it – the first stage of the next part of the neverendum, which if Alex Salmond has the whip hand, explicitly is the road to Catalonia. He’s not hiding it, it’s mass street protests, it’s immediate negotiation with the British government, it will be very quickly civil disobedience. It is a recipe for trouble in Scotland.

George Galloway (left) and Jamie Blackett at the All for Unity launch today.

George Galloway (left) and Jamie Blackett at the All for Unity launch today. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA