UK advises under-40s get alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to small risk of blood clots



The UK’s vaccine advisory panel says that due to a small risk of blood clots people under 40 should have an alternative to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot.

British officials say people under 40 should be offered an alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot where possible due to a small risk of blood clots, given the low number of cases and the availability of other shots.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot, developed by Oxford University, has resulted in reports of rare blood clots with low platelet levels that occur more commonly in younger adults.

It was advised last month the shot not be the preferred jab in Australia for adults under 50.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the advice reflected low levels of COVID-19 infection in Britain and the availability of other vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Officials said that Britain would still offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by the end of July.

“As COVID-19 rates continue to come under control, we are advising that adults aged 18-39 years with no underlying health conditions are offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, if available and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine,” said Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for JCVI.

“The advice is specific to circumstances in the UK at this time and maximises use of the wide portfolio of vaccines available.

“Previously, advice was only for people under 30 to be offered an alternative vaccine.

The British MHRA medicine regulator has found an incidence of 17.4 clots per million doses of the vaccine among 30 to 39-year-olds, compared with 10.5 clots per million doses overall.

There have been 2.1 deaths from the clots per million doses reported overall, rising to 4.5 deaths per million doses for the 30 to 39 year olds.

June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine “continue to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people”.

“The balance of benefits and risks is very favourable for older people, but is more finely balanced for younger people.” 

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TGA identifies blood clotting in 66-year-old man who received AstraZeneca jab


Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has announced the TGA is poised to confirm a case of thrombosis in a 66-year-old man in Townsville after he received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

She said the TGA believed “that his illness is a direct result of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

The man received his first dose of the vaccine on March 30 and subsequently developed abdominal pain.

He has been admitted to the ICU in Townsville.

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Five more blood clot cases likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine recorded across Australia



Five Australians over the age of 50 have developed blood clotting and low platelets after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in the past week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has confirmed. 

The TGA says it is also looking into three other reports of blood clotting in the last week but is yet to make a determination on them.

The five new cases were in a 74-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman from Victoria, a 66-year-old man from Queensland, a 64-year-old woman from Western Australia and a 70-year-old man from Tasmania.

TGA head Professor John Skerritt said many of those had “serious and significant” underlying health conditions, stressing blood clotting following vaccination remained a rare event.

“The evidence from TGA and the advice from ATAGI, the advisors to governments, that the benefits of this vaccine for the over 50s still very significantly exceeds the risks,” he said on Thursday. 

The latest figures take the total confirmed number of blood clot cases linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine since the start of the rollout to 11.

Four of those have already left hospital, the TGA said in a statement. 

“Encouragingly, of the five cases reported in our statement on 23 April 2021 as hospitalised with thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following vaccination, four have now been discharged from hospital and are either at home or have returned to work,” it said.

On Thursday, Tasmanian authorities announced a 70-year-old man was in hospital in a stable condition after reporting clotting symptoms seven days after receiving the vaccine.

Earlier that day, Queensland authorities announced a 66-year-old man was in intensive care in a Townsville hospital with thrombosis linked to the vaccine.

The man received the first dose of the vaccine on 30 March and then developed abdominal pain, before being admitted to the Townsville hospital.

Professor Skerrit said given the AstraZeneca vaccine was only being administered to those over 50, the results were not surprising.

“If you’re only giving a medicine or vaccine to people over 50 that’s the only group where you’ll see an adverse event,” he said.

As of 2 May, approximately 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered.

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Australian authorities investigate three new blood clot cases likely linked to AstraZeneca jab



Federal health authorities are investigating three more cases of blood clots that are likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said it had reviewed suspected thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) in an 80-year-old Victorian man, a 49-year-old Queensland man and a 35-year-old NSW woman.

“The Vaccine Safety Investigation Group [VSIG] concluded that all three of the cases were likely linked to vaccination,” the TGA said in a statement.

“All three patients are clinically stable, have responded well to treatment and are recovering.”

The 49-year-old Queensland man has since been discharged from hospital. 

Chief Health Officer Jeaneete Young said on Saturday the man had been treated for two days at Royal Brisbane Hospital and Women’s Hospital after receiving a vaccination from a GP in South Brisbane. 

“It is important that both the vaccine recipient and their treating clinician are educated on the signs and symptoms of TSS,” she said. 

Dr Young reiterated that clotting reactions were extremely rare and thanked the TGA for their fast review and continued feedback. 

The 80-year-old case marks the first Australian to be reported in a patient older than 50.

There have now been six blood clot cases most likely linked to the AstraZeneca jab, including 48-year-old Genene Norris, who died.

All six cases developed symptoms between four and 26 days after vaccination.

“The VSIG concluded that the events were TTS very likely linked to vaccination because of the consistency of the cases with the current working case definition for TTS, and the absence of known alternative risk factors and causes for the events,” the TGA said.

“However, Australian estimated age-specific incidence rates are imprecise due to small numbers and will be updated as further information become available.”

About 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Australia to date.

At the current rate, it will take until 2023 for all Australians to be vaccinated.

Those currently eligible for the vaccine include people over 70, staff and residents in aged care homes, disability residential accommodation residents and staff, frontline health workers, emergency service workers, border workers, quarantine facility staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55, and people with underlying health conditions.

Due to blood clotting risks, the Pfizer vaccine will be prioritised for people under 50.

On Thursday the government also announced plans to speed up the rollout by bringing forward AstraZeneca vaccines for people aged over 50 and booting up more state-run vaccination hubs.

“We’re very confident that the Pfizer doses will continue to increase month by month in future months,” Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy told journalists after a national cabinet meeting.

“We hope that Australians heed the call to come out and get vaccinated.”

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TGA investigates three new blood clot cases likely linked to AstraZeneca jab in Australia



The AstraZeneca vaccine has been recommended for people over 50, with Pfizer the preferred jab for Australians under 50 due to cases of blood clots.

Federal health authorities are investigating three more cases of blood clots that are likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said it had reviewed suspected thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) in an 80-year-old Victorian man, a 49-year-old Queensland man and a 35-year-old NSW woman.

“The Vaccine Safety Investigation Group [VSIG] concluded that all three of the cases were likely linked to vaccination,” the TGA said in a statement.

“All three patients are clinically stable, have responded well to treatment and are recovering.”

The 80-year-old case marks the first Australian to be reported in a patient older than 50.

There have now been six blood clot cases most likely linked to the AstraZeneca jab, including 48-year-old Genene Norris, who died.

All six cases developed symptoms between four and 26 days after vaccination.

“The VSIG concluded that the events were TTS very likely linked to vaccination because of the consistency of the cases with the current working case definition for TTS, and the absence of known alternative risk factors and causes for the events,” the TGA said.

“However, Australian estimated age-specific incidence rates are imprecise due to small numbers and will be updated as further information become available.”

About 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Australia to date.

At the current rate, it will take until 2023 for all Australians to be vaccinated.

Those currently eligible for the vaccine include people over 70, staff and residents in aged care homes, disability residential accommodation residents and staff, frontline health workers, emergency service workers, border workers, quarantine facility staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55, and people with underlying health conditions.

Due to blood clotting risks, the Pfizer vaccine will be prioritised for people under 50.

On Thursday the government also announced plans to speed up the rollout by bringing forward AstraZeneca vaccines for people aged over 50 and booting up more state-run vaccination hubs.

“We’re very confident that the Pfizer doses will continue to increase month by month in future months,” Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy told journalists after a national cabinet meeting.

“We hope that Australians heed the call to come out and get vaccinated.”

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TGA investigating three new blood clot cases in people given AstraZeneca vaccine



The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has confirmed three new instances of blood clots in Australia linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including the first case in someone over the age of 50.

Last week the TGA confirmed the fatal blood clotting suffered by a 48-year-old Australian woman was likely linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

She was the third Australian to have developed clots after the vaccine. There have now been six cases of blood clots, or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, from 1.1 million doses.

The three new cases are a 35-year-old woman from New South Wales, a 49-year-old Queensland man and an 80-year-old Victorian man, who is the first case over 50 years of age.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been recommended for people over 50, while Pfizer is preferred for Australians under 50 because the clotting cases, until now, have all been in that age bracket.

The TGA’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group (VSIG) confirmed all three new cases were linked to the vaccine.

“All three patients are clinically stable, have responded well to treatment and are recovering,” a TGA statement read.

“Whilst meeting the international and UK criteria, two of the three cases appear to be milder forms of the syndrome that were recognised very early by the treating health professionals and are responding well to treatment, and in one of the cases platelet counts were depressed to a limited extent and the patient developed symptoms unusually late (26 days after vaccination).”

The TGA said one of the cases involved a blood clot in the brain, which caused a headache, a nosebleed, nausea and vomiting.

The other two cases presented in more common ways — deep vein thrombosis in the calf and upper leg — although clots in the lungs and brain were later found.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) estimates TTS occurs at a rate of about six in 1 million people vaccinated, but that rate jumps to 20-40 per million in people under 50 years of age.

“However, Australian estimated age-specific incidence rates are imprecise due to small numbers and will be updated as further information become available,” the TGA said.

After the ATAGI’s estimates were revealed and it reaffirmed the risks of AstraZeneca outweighed the dangers in people over 50, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly confirmed the rejigged rollout plan for the vaccines, with all people over 50 getting access to AstraZeneca from next month.

“The recalibrated vaccine rollout plan is consistent with the advice received from ATAGI today – that Pfizer is the recommended vaccine for those under 50 years of age,” Professor Kelly said.

The TGA said people who have received the vaccine should be on the lookout for symptoms like a severe or persistent headache or blurred vision; shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain; or unusual skin bruising and/or pinpoint round spots beyond the site of injection.

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Gold Coast residents claim ‘blood red’ canal caused by dewatering at Palm Beach development


Palm Beach residents living along the Mallawa canal believe dewatering at a nearby development site has turned their canal ‘blood red’ after recent heavy rains.

Kim Parker said her husband was walking the family’s dogs on April 19 when he noticed a dewatering system had been set up on a development site at Seventh Avenue.

“It was shocking — never seen anything like it.

“There was a slime and stuff floating on it … we contacted council straightaway.”

Ms Parker, who has a science degree, said she noticed a sulphuric smell and council officers were already in the area testing the water after someone else had complained.

Palm Beach resident Kim Parker is worried marine life in Mallawa canal may be affected.(

Supplied: Kim Parker

)

“They didn’t really know anything about the dewatering and couldn’t really link that,” she said.

“All of the hallmarks of an acid sulphate soil problem were there — that sulphuric-smelling, terrible iron-staining, oily-looking water.”

Dewatering is the removal of groundwater or surface water from a construction site.

It is normally done by using a pump to reduce the water table before the excavation for footings.

Ms Parker said she was worried about the impact on marine life and children who often played in the park at the end of Seventh Avenue.

“I was concerned about kids playing in the park. I’ve got my grandchildren here often.

“The actual slimy red stuff … you can’t help but get it on yourself and it burns when it’s on you.”

Photo of water being pumped into storm water drain.
Removing water from development sites is common in Palm Beach.(

Supplied: Kim Parker

)

Mallawa canal is surrounded by residential homes and connects to Tallebudgera Creek.

Ms Parker said she was surrounded by homes that had been stained before.

“We’ve had it happen before, we’ve had a similar impact before on the canal, but never this bad,” she said.

“I should imagine that because we’ve had quite a bit of rain there’s more water in the bores perhaps.”

A Gold Coast City Council spokesperson said they were aware of the matter, with early testing indicating the presence of iron in the waterway.

“Development compliance officers will investigate developments within the vicinity and conduct further water sampling of dewatering sites,” they said.

Rocks stained red at Burleigh Beach.
Rocks at Burleigh Beach were stained red after recent heavy rains.(

ABC Gold Coast: Bern Young

)

Burleigh Beach

Last week, Burleigh Heads residents raised concerns when they identified a strange smell and stained rocks at the outlet of a drain on the popular beach.

The City of Gold Coast released a statement that said they had received a small number of complaints and was investigating the matter.

“There is no discharge currently present and environmental health officers are monitoring the situation,” the council spokesperson said.

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Scientists exploring possible link between Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca vaccine blood clot issues


Doctors, scientists and public health experts are turning to Europe for clues, where a similar vaccine made by AstraZeneca — not yet authorized in the U.S. — also has been linked to a number of rare blood clots.

“It’s hard to say if it’s the same problem,” said Dr. Richard Kuhn, Ph.D., a virology expert at Purdue University, “but it does seem the vaccine triggers an antibody response that activates platelets, leading to clots.”

While many experts have hesitated to say for sure if there is a link, Schaffner said there’s a growing consensus in the scientific community after none of these rare clots have been linked to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which use mRNA, a different technology.

“I think we shouldn’t be coy about that any longer,” Schaffner said, adding that it may be time to “accept the fact that these are vaccine-induced but very rare events.”

But experts cautioned that even if there is a link, current evidence suggests the risk of developing a blood clot after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is exceedingly low — lower, in fact, than being struck by lightning.

Responding to a report on one of the six clot cases published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Johnson & Johnson penned a response Friday, insisting a clear link has not yet been established.

“At this time, evidence is insufficient to establish a causal relationship between these events and the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine,” Janssen scientists said, adding that the vectors used in their vaccine and AstraZeneca’s are “substantially different” and that those differences could lead to “quite different biological effects.” The researchers added that “more evidence is needed” to further clarify the cause of this clotting, combined with low platelet count in those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent advisory committee will review all evidence and make a recommendation about whether to resume using J&J vaccines.

Different theories

Still with more questions than answers, scientists are exploring different theories about why this type of shot — called a viral vector vaccine — might cause rare clotting problems.

Vaccines work by prompting our immune systems to develop antibodies against a virus, and a prevailing theory is that viral vector vaccines somehow trigger an abnormal immune response, leading to the blood clots.

Scientists in Germany identified a specific antibody in many people who developed clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine — and U.S. researchers subsequently identified the same antibody in individuals who developed similar clots after getting a J&J vaccine. In these subjects, the body’s immune system has formed antibodies that attach to platelets, the specialized blood cells that join together to form clots.

“It’s not the vaccine that’s causing it — it’s the body’s immune response to the vaccine,” said Dr. Alex Spyropoulos, a blood clot specialist and professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.

Experts say the condition, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, is exceedingly rare.

The Food and Drug Administration and CDC said that in the six women who experienced a clot, the problem manifested six to 13 days after receiving the shot, a time frame that tracks with an immune response, Spyropoulos said.

It’s still not clear why a vaccine would trigger this cascade of events, but researchers said it mimics another well-documented reaction to heparin, a common blood thinner. For this reason, the CDC and FDA have warned against using heparin to treat anyone recently vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Existing evidence from the United States and Europe hints that women may be at greater risk – perhaps in part because women are already more likely than men to develop CVST, based on previous data.

“We have to be careful about the assumptions we make,” Spryopoulos cautioned, “especially given how infrequent these events have been.”

It’s possible similar cases will develop in men, but if the CDC advisory panel concludes that the risk is higher in women, the FDA could move toward a black box warning — a label for drugs and medical devices with potentially serious side effects – on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for certain women.

Though the abrupt halt to an already authorized vaccine may instill concerns and foment hesitancy around the vaccine, experts said it’s a good sign drugs are being properly vetted for safety.

“I really want to stress to the public that they need to remain confident in our concepts and the times regarding vaccines in general,” said Dr. Jason Goldman, an internal medicine doctor representing the American College of Physicians on the expert panel said, adding that members of the general public should “not to let this sour your decision on getting vaccinated in general.”

“We do have confidence in the process,” Goldman added. “And we will make the right decision regarding public safety.”

Amanda Benarroch, M.D., a psychiatry resident at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit. ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik and Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

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Death of NSW woman who suffered blood clotting ‘likely’ linked to AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine



The TGA says the death of the 48-year-old who developed blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca shot “is likely to be linked to vaccination”.

The fatal blood clotting suffered by a woman in NSW is “likely” linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine she received, Australia’s medical regulator has announced. 

The revelation came in a statement late on Friday night from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The TGA’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group (VSIG) met on Friday and concluded the blood clotting in the 48-year-old woman’s arteries and veins, as well as her low platelet count, was “likely to be linked to vaccination”.

She was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot on 8 April and admitted to hospital four days later, where she died.

The review of the woman’s death was complicated by her underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, and “some atypical features”, the TGA’s statement said.

It said “anti-PFA antibodies” – which activate platelets, and have been found in almost all other internationally reported blood clot cases – were also absent. 

“Despite the atypical clinical features and the negative antibody test, in the absence of an alternative cause for the clinical syndrome, [VSIG] believed that a causative link to vaccination should be assumed at this time,” the statement said. 

This is the third report of a case of the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia and the first death. The other two cases are being treated in hospital and have been recovering well.

Last Thursday, adults in Australians under the age of 50 were warned off receiving the AstraZeneca shot, with Pfizer becoming the preferred vaccine for that demographic. 

The TGA said the woman who died was vaccinated before authorities made the decision later that day, it said in its Friday statement.

Laboratory tests from the woman are still pending and an autopsy will be conducted next week. 

“Given this is an atypical presentation, should the test results and autopsy provide an alternative causation, VSIG would review their decision,” the TGA said.

TGA chief John Skerritt said this week that blood clotting associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine was so rare that “your chances of winning the lotto are much higher”, with the regulator’s Friday statement saying the three cases in Australia so far equated to a frequency of one in 295,000.

Earlier on Friday, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly urged people to continue to get vaccinated, saying the benefits far outweighed any harm.

He said he had read one unpublished overseas study that suggested COVID-19 brought a risk of blood clotting itself.

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Scott Morrison warns against drawing conclusions after blood clotting death in NSW



Prime Minister Scott Morrison says authorities are still investigating the death of a NSW woman who developed blood clots after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Scott Morrison has warned against rushing to conclusions after the death of a person in NSW who reportedly developed blood clots a day after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The 48-year-old woman was a diabetic, the ABC reports, and preliminary tests have not found a conclusive link to the vaccination.

The prime minister on Thursday night said the woman’s death was still being investigated by state and federal authorities.

“I think there is a lot more to understand and learn about that issue and I would caution others in making conclusions about this at this point as well,” he told reporters near Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

“We’ve been very transparent, very transparent when it comes to information on these issues and people can expect us to do that.”

Mr Morrison said potential concerns around vaccine hesitancy meant it was important that the matter was fully investigated by medical experts.

“I think it’s important, because of the fact that people can have concerns, that we follow that important process, to inform ourselves properly,” he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and NSW health authorities are probing the death.

“As part of this process, the TGA is seeking further clinical information including clinical test results from the New South Wales Health Department,” a statement on the federal health department’s website said on Thursday night.

When contacted about the reported death, a NSW Health spokesperson told SBS News the department would not speculate on individual cases, but “our condolences are with the family and loved ones of the person who has passed away”.

The TGA is responsible for regulating and monitoring the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, the spokesperson said, but NSW Health is notified when a serious or unexpected adverse event occurs.

“Many conditions can arise during normal life, whether or not a vaccine is administered, but it remains important to report any new serious or unexpected events so that safety can be appropriately monitored,” they said.

It is not yet known which vaccine the woman received.

Australians under the age of 50 were last week warned off receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, after a link was confirmed between the jab and rare blood clots.

The prime minister received recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on April 8 that the Pfizer vaccine should now be adopted as the preferred vaccine for people aged under 50.

Two people have so far developed bloods clots likely linked to their AstraZeneca jab in Australia – a woman in Western Australia and a man in Victoria, both aged in the 40s.

TGA chief John Skerritt emphasised on Tuesday that blood clotting associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine was so rare, “your chances of winning the lotto are much higher”.

Additional reporting by SBS News.

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