'Unusual blood clots' should be listed as 'very rare' side effect of Oxford vaccine, EU regulator says

·2-min read

The European medicines regulator says that "unusual blood clots" should be listed as a "very rare" side-effect of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

Ahead of a 3pm news briefing, the European Medicines Agency said it had come to its conclusion after taking into consideration all available evidence.

European Union health ministers have been told that the announcement would have an "immediate impact on vaccination plans" and "vaccine confidence", according to an EU document seen by Reuters news agency.

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There have been concerns over whether the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is suitable for younger age groups after reports of rare blood clots on the continent, prompting several European countries to go back-and-forth on their own vaccination strategies in recent weeks.

But ahead of the EMA's latest briefing, France, Germany and the Netherlands had all since restricted the use of the vaccine to older people over fears that younger recipients are potentially more at risk from clots.

Earlier this week, the EMA's head of vaccine strategy said it was "increasingly difficult" to say there is "no cause and effect relationship" between the jab and "rare cases of unusual blood clots".

The uncertainty over the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab has been held up as one of the main reasons for Europe's sluggish vaccination programme compared to the UK, where the shot has been widely used alongside the one from Pfizer.

But the UK regulator is also investigating whether the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would be suitable for young people once the rollout reaches them in the coming months.

Use of the jab for younger Britons has been reviewed following concerns at the weekend when it was revealed that of the 18.1 million people who have had the vaccine in the UK, 30 people have developed blood clots.

Seven of those people had died as of 24 March.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) scheduled a joint press conference with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for Wednesday afternoon.