A top official in the European Medicines Agency said in an interview published Tuesday, 6 April, that there is a link between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and blood clots.
EMA head of vaccines Marco Cavaleri told Italy’s Il Messaggero newspaper “in my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine, although it was not clear what caused such a reaction.”
He said that “in the next few hours, we will say that there is a connection, but we still have to understand how this happens”.
After several countries, including Ireland, paused the use of the vaccine, the EMA said that the benefits outweigh the risks and it should remain in use.
But it has said that a causal link between clots and the vaccine is possible and is expected to provide an updated assessment this week.
“We are trying to get a precise picture of what is happening, to define in detail this syndrome due to the vaccine,” Mr Cavaleri said.
He added: “Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis among young people than we would expect.”
His comments come as UK regulators are also examining potential links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.
Reports suggest that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is considering proposals to restrict the use of the vaccine in younger people.
If confirmed, the roll-out of the UK’s vaccination programme could be slowed significantly as more than a fifth of its vaccine supply is tied up in the AstraZeneca jab.
The British government has secured a total of 457 million doses, of which 100 million are from AstraZeneca.
But vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he is “confident” that the commitment to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July will be met.
He said the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out around the third week of April.
Mr Zahawi said the MHRA looks “very closely” at reports of adverse reactions to the vaccines.
The agency has said it identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events out of 18.1 million doses of the jab administered up to and including 24 March.
There have been seven deaths among the 30 cases.
But the regulator said the benefits of the vaccine in preventing coronavirus outweigh any risks and it urged the public to continue coming forward for the jab.
A number of countries have imposed restrictions on the use of the jab in younger adults.