Health authorities in Canada decided to suspend the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 due to growing concerns that the shot could be potentially linked to the formation of blood clots in rare circumstances.
The pause for the usage of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine followed a recommendation issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) for safety reasons. The committee advised Canadian provinces to suspend the administration of the shot.
The provincial health authorities, including the ones from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, announced the suspension on Monday, following NACI’s recommendation.
“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said in a statement, adding that the suspension of the shot’s usage for people under 55 is a “precautionary measure.”
Deeks said the move came after new data from research in Europe suggested that the risk of blood clots has risen to one-in-100,000, which is much higher than the one-in-one-million risk that was believed before.
In a statement, Health Canada said that reports about additional cases of “very rare adverse events” of “thrombosis (blood clots) with thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets) [are] occurring after immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccine” are circulating in Europe.
The European Medicines Agency cited that it is yet to identify whether there is a definitive link between the vaccine and the rare types of blood clots that can be associated with thrombocytopenia.
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