US sends their vaccine surplus amid reports of blood clots
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
AstraZeneca reports that there have been 37 reports of blood clots among over 17 million people vaccinated.
On March 19, it was reported that the US would be sending Canada their surplus of AstraZeneca vaccines (which has a reported effectiveness of 79 percent) boosting the country’s supply of vaccines doses by 1.5 million. The vaccine (which was approved for emergency use in Canada last month and has not yet been approved by the US) is being sent both to Mexico and Canada in order to use them before their expiration dates. Unfortunately, the transfer comes with the notice that many countries in the European Union (EU) and across the globe have temporarily suspended the vaccine rollout amid reports of blood clots occurring in recipients.
A blood clot (or thrombus) is a clump of hardened blood that can travel through the body and can cause heart attacks, strokes, and blockages in the lungs.
The first country to blow the whistle was Denmark which temporarily banned the vaccine on March 11 citing reports of blood clots among some recipients with some leading to death. Norway and Iceland later followed suit with the same concerns saying the link between the vaccine and blood clots should be further investigated. Other European countries like Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Ireland (most recently) as well as Thailand, Congo, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, and many others have suspended the vaccines until the matter is further investigated.
AstraZeneca reports that there have been 37 reports of blood clots among over 17 million people vaccinated—both the company and regulators maintain there is no evidence that the vaccine causes or increases the risk of blood clots. This is echoed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as also encourage that people should continue to be immunized citing that the benefits of the vaccine protecting against COVID-19 outweigh the risks. Despite the company’s and health official’s advice, public confidence (especially in Europe) regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine has dwindled.
On March 20, it was reported that scientists in Europe did find a link between the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and potentially fatal blood clots, but only in extremely rare cases. In their research they found that 18 of the cases in Europe were a rare form of blood clot known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), though it’s worth noting these kind of blood clots were more common in women especially before or after pregnancy or while taking birth control. The EMA says COVID-19 can also cause blood clots and the vaccine can reduce them, so. They also found that these incidents were reported 14 days after receiving the shot and majority of the cases were in women over 55 years old.
Since then, Canada has been monitoring guidance on the vaccine and has already administered more than 500,000 doses since March 20, but they have not yet provided an update on guidance for the shot.