COVID-19: Canada suspends use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine for those under 55

COVID-19: Canada suspends use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine for those under 55

On Monday, Canadian health authorities suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines to those below the age of 55 years. The development came after it was found that the shot could be linked to the formation of rare blood clots.

On Monday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the suspension of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines for people under age 55. The NACI administers health in the country.  The vice chair of the Committee, Dr. Shelley Deeks said, “There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks.”

The suspension was ordered amid new data from Europe which suggested that most of the patients in Europe developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca was women under age 55.  The fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%.

According to Dr. Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force, there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe. However, a rare but very serious side effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe.

Dr. Reimer said that after getting the shot, the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days. The symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack.

Canadian regulators have approved the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized in more than 70 countries. On 3rd March, Canada received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) under the Covishield brand name.

Canada is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca from the U.S. on Wednesday.

Several European countries that had stopped the use of AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns it could cause blood clots. After the EU’s drug regulator said the vaccine was safe, the countries resumed administering it.

However, Health Canada had clarified that till date “no cases of these events (side effects such as possible blood clots) have been reported in Canada”. It further said that it is in discussion with AstraZeneca on this “evolving issue”.

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