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Concerns rise over AZ jabs as UK reports seven deaths

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on April 03, 2021

ICMR expert says countries should decide on local realities

Concerns over rare blood clots reported in recipients of the AstraZeneca-OxfordUniversity vaccine got closer home for the British-Swedish company, with the United Kingdom’s regulator confirming seven deaths.

“Out of the 30 reports up to and including 24 March, sadly 7 have died,” the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement on Saturday. The development comes even as several European countries and Canada have restricted the use of the vaccine in older people. The US is still to give the vaccine a go-ahead.

Studies in India

The AZ-Oxford vaccine is one of the two being rolled out in India, but the Indian Council of Medical Research’s head of epidemiology, Samiran Panda, told Business Line that countries needed to take a call depending on their epidemiology and local population and realities.

The bridging studies on the vaccine in India did not show any such side-effect, he said. The ICMR collaborated on the local trials of the vaccine with Serum Institute of India. SII has an alliance with AZ to make and market the vaccine locally and in other low- and middle-income countries.

The aim in India is to scale-up its “smart vaccination” and break the chain of transmission through a combination of restricted movement, masks and other such measures, he said.

Continue vaccinating

In the UK, too, MHRA Chief Executive June Raine said, “The benefits of AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 infection and its complications continue to outweigh any risks and the public should continue to get their vaccine.”

The MHRA said that its recently published weekly summary of the “Yellow Card” reporting (of safety concerns and adverse effects) for Covid-19 vaccines revealed “up to and including 24 March had received 22 reports of CVST and 8 reports of other thrombosis events with low platelets, out of a total of 18.1 million doses of Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca given by that date”. Further it added, there were no reports for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, also being given in the UK.

Published on April 03, 2021

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