AstraZeneca vaccine: Blood clots with low platelet count ‘very rare’ – eight signs to spot
AstraZeneca vaccine ‘safe and effective’ says EMA
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency all state that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any possible risks. But a rare combination of blood-related symptoms known as thrombocytopenia seen in a number of people has meant some governments are proceeding with more caution. What is thrombocytopenia?
Up to and including 31 March 2021, the MHRA had received 79 UK reports of blood clotting cases alongside low levels of platelets following the use of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca:
44 of the 79 cases were of Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia
35 of the 79 cases were of thrombosis in other major veins with thrombocytopenia
79 cases occurred in 51 women and 28 men, aged from 18 to 79 years. It should be noted that more women have been vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca than men.
Sadly, 19 people have died out of the 79 cases – 13 females and 6 males. 11 out of the 19 people who died were under the age of 50, 3 of whom were under 30. 14 of these 19 cases were of CVST with thrombocytopenia and 5 were of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.
All 79 cases occurred after a first dose of the vaccine.
What is thrombocytopenia?
When you have cancer or when you receive treatment for cancer, your levels of certain blood cells can go below normal, said Cancer Net.
The health site continued: “Platelets are one of these types of blood cells. The medical terms for a low level of platelets are “low platelet count” or “thrombocytopenia.”
“Platelets help stop bleeding when needed. For example, if you cut yourself, platelets make the blood cells clump together, or clot. This blocks off the cut blood vessels so they can heal.
“Normal platelet levels in your blood are important for your health.
“You can develop a low platelet count if your body does not make enough platelets or if your body loses or destroys platelets.”
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According to the Mayo Clinic thrombocytopenia signs and symptoms may include:
- Easy or excessive bruising (purpura)
- Superficial bleeding into the skin that appears as a rash of pinpoint-sized reddish-purple spots (petechiae), usually on the lower legs
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Bleeding from your gums or nose
- Blood in urine or stools
- Unusually heavy menstrual flows
- Enlarged spleen
Dr Sabina Strauss listed the common symptoms reported from the AstraZeneca vaccine which include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling leg
- Abdominal pain
- Severe headache or blurred vision
Chief Executive MHRA, Dr June Raine said: “This is extremely rare and with the proven effectiveness against the disease the balance of benefits and known risks of the vaccine are still very favourable for the vast majority of people.”
Chair Committee of Human Medicines, Sir Munir Pirmohamed warned of the following: “Based on the current available data the commission who have met have advised the following: First, a pregnant woman should continue to discuss with her healthcare professional whether the benefits of having the vaccine outweigh the risks for them.
“Number two, people with a history of blood disorders that increase the risk of clotting should only have the COVID-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca) where the benefits outweigh any potential risks.
“Number three, anyone who experiences cerebral venous thrombosis or other major blood clots occurring together with low levels of platelets after the first vaccine (AstraZeneca) should not have the second dose.”
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