The UK Vaccines Agency is “urgently” considering discouraging young people from giving young people the AstraZeneca Oxford Covid-19 coronavirus rush claimed by a leading epidemiologist.
Professor Neil Ferguson told Radio 4 that the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) “is urgently considering this matter” because of concerns that the risk of extremely rare blood clots may be slightly higher in younger people.
The MHRA should now consider advising people under the age of 30 not to take the push.
The agency said it identified 30 rare blood clot events from 18.1 million doses of the sting administered through March 24, inclusive. Among the 30 cases, there were seven deaths.
However, the regulator had stated that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing coronavirus outweigh the risks and urged the public to continue advocating the sting.
And the government has again committed to offering all adults a Covid-19 vaccination by the summer.
However, if the MHRA advises against the use of Oxford vaccination in younger people, the rollout of the vaccination program could be significantly slowed as more than a fifth of UK vaccine transport is tied up in the Oxford / AstraZeneca study.
The government has received a total of 457 million cans, of which 100 million are from AstraZeneca.
But Vaccination Minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “confident” that the commitment to offer a sting to all adults by the end of July will be met.
And he said the Moderna vaccine would be introduced “around the third week of April”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “It will be used in the third week of April on the NHS and we will get more volume in May as well.
“And of course more volume from Pfizer and Oxford / AstraZeneca, and we have other vaccines. We also have the Janssen vaccine – Johnson and Johnson – on offer.
“I am therefore confident that we can achieve our goal of offering the vaccine to everyone over 50 in mid-April and then offering the vaccine to all adults at the end of July.”
In the meantime, he said the MHRA is “looking very closely” at reports of vaccine side effects.
The agency has identified 30 cases of rare blood clots from 18.1 million doses of the sting administered through March 24th, inclusive.
Among the 30 cases, there were seven deaths.
However, the regulator said the vaccine’s benefits in preventing coronavirus outweigh the risks and urged the public to continue advocating the sting.
Mr. Zahawi told BBC Breakfast: “The regulators are investigating all adverse incidents through the yellow card system very carefully.
“And June Raine, the executive director of MHRA, our independent regulatory agency, said last night if you get the invitation for the vaccine, accept that invitation and get the vaccine and you will be protected.
“At the same time, they are investigating these very rare cases of blood clotting.
“We have had nearly 20 million vaccinations with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Both vaccines saved about 6,300 lives between December and the end of February. So it’s important to continue to follow instructions from clinicians, scientists and regulators. And we will do absolutely exactly what they say.”
Channel 4 News reported that the MHRA was considering proposals to limit the use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people and a decision may be imminent.
Dr. June Raine, Managing Director of MHRA said, “People should continue to receive their vaccine when prompted.
“Our thorough and detailed review includes reports of very rare and specific types of low platelet blood clots following the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
“No decision on regulatory measures has yet been taken.”
The 30 cases in the UK include 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and eight other low platelet thrombosis events.
CVST clots prevent blood from properly draining out of the brain.
However, it is not known whether these cases occurred as a result of the sting or whether they would have naturally occurred in the population anyway.
A number of countries have restricted the use of the sting in younger adults.
However, the head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there was “no evidence” to support a restriction on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in a population.
The view is borne out by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has urged countries to keep using the push.