COVID-19: Does the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab cause blood clots?

  • UK health officials urge the British public to continue getting vaccinated
  • Ireland becomes the latest country to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Sir Ian Diamond and Professor Chris Whitty warn that a third wave of COVID is likely
  • The UK records the lowest number of coronavirus deaths since October 2020

Ireland and the Netherlands have paused the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, joining eight other European countries after several vaccine recipients developed life-threatening blood clots.

Although AstraZeneca and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have insisted that no evidence suggests the vaccine is causing blood clots, European countries have said “precautionary measures” need to be made following the deaths of several patients.

UK health officials and scientists are also urging the British public to continue getting inoculated despite the jab being suspended in several other countries.

So, should Britons due to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine be concerned about developing pulmonary embolism?

AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine

AstraZeneca and the EMA say the vaccine is safe

While the EMA is carrying out reviews into the reported incidents across the bloc, the EU agency has stressed that “currently, there is no indication that vaccination caused the conditions being found in receivers of the jab.”

The EMA noted that of the five million people that have been inoculated, only 30 of those had reported blood clots or similar conditions – adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh the risks.

According to recent news, Austria, Italy and Denmark have recorded deaths in recipients of the COVID vaccine, while Norway reported four new cases of severe blood clotting.

AstraZeneca responded to claims that its vaccine was unsafe, stating that it has a completed examination of its formula based on data covering the 17 million that have received the jab across the UK and EU and found no evidence of increased risk.

A former consultant in communicable disease control for the British government, Peter English, said news that European countries have suspended using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was “regrettable” and threatens the recovery outlook.

He highlighted the EU’s laggard Coronavirus vaccination programme, stating that cancelling the rollout of the AstraZeneca jab “risks doing real harm to the goal of vaccinating enough people to reduce the transmission rate and end the pandemic.”

Coronavirus cases in Europe

Which countries have suspended the AstraZeneca jab?

The Netherlands and Ireland join Norway, Italy, Austria and several other European countries suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Despite no cases of the condition being recorded, the Netherlands cancelled 43,000 COVID vaccine appointments by enforcing the temporary suspension.

Ireland said it would also pause its administration of the injection following a Norwegian Medicines Agency review (NMA). Ireland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, said the NMA raised concerns about the jab after recording four severe reports of pulmonary embolism days after receivers had been inoculated with the vaccine.

While the public health institution reiterated that no conclusive evidence had linked the health condition to the vaccine, precautionary measures need to be made pending further investigation.

Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have also paused their vaccination while they investigate.

Health officials suggest blood clots could be coincidental

Oxford vaccine group director, Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine, stated: “Reassuring evidence shows that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe been given so far”.

While he stressed that safety is “paramount”, he also noted that approximately 3,000 blood clot cases occur in the UK from other non-related illnesses each month, so the incidents occurring in the EU could be purely coincidental.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that Britain – where most jabs have been issued – had recorded no unusual COVID symptoms.

MHRA Vaccine Safety Head, Dr Phil Bryan, told Britons not to be discouraged by the latest news and “still get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked by their GP or other health authority”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also vouched for the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, with spokeswoman Dr Margaret Harris describing it as “excellent” despite the growing list of countries temporarily pausing use of the AstraZeneca jab.

News of the vaccine suspensions comes amid warnings that the UK could face a third wave of COVID-19 by autumn.

UK could be facing a third COVID wave in autumn

The UK’s National Statistician, Sir Ian Diamond, warns that a third COVID wave will hit Britain in autumn despite declining coronavirus deaths, cases and hospitalisations.

Sir Diamond said that although COVID-19 cases are at their lowest levels since September 2020, the infection rate is still significantly higher than it was last summer and regional variations remain a cause for concern.

His comments come after England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned that reopening the economy will trigger an alarming spike in coronavirus cases.

However, Professor Chris Whitty defended UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap and said a spike in the infection rate is inevitable given that all modelling suggests cases will rise once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The UK recorded 52 coronavirus deaths on Sunday – its lowest number since October 2020. The figures collated by the UK government also revealed that only 4,618 new infections were recorded in the same 24 hour period, compared to 5,534 the previous day.

According to, Britain is now one step closer to achieving its target to vaccinate all nine of its priority groups by April 15th, as 24,196,211 people have now received their first COVID vaccine dose.

More than 500,000 vaccines were administered on Sunday. The rate at which vaccines are administered is also expected to accelerate in the coming days, as the UK is preparing to ramp up its vaccination programme.

While mutant strains pose a threat to progress, Britain’s rapid vaccine rollout, which should allow coronavirus deaths and hospitalisations to continue following a downward trajectory, raises hopes for the future.

Wales has already begun lifting lockdown, replacing the “stay at home” rule with a “stay local” rule, allowing more people to socialise outdoors with different households.

Hair salons and barbershops also reopened on Monday, while primary school children resumed face-to-face learning in classrooms.

In England, the Prime Minister is scheduled to reintroduce the rule of six and organised sports from March 29th, while non-essential stores, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality venues are expected to open reopen from April 12th.

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