Following the news that a casual link between the AstraZeneca jab and blood clots is “plausible”, but “not confirmed”, by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to reassure the public that the vaccine is safe.
However, it has been recommended by regulators that those aged 18 to 29 should receive one of the other available vaccines, like Pfizer of Moderna, as the vaccination programme continues to roll out across the UK.
‘The benefits outweigh the risks’
Speaking to reporters in Cornwall, Johnson said: “The vaccines are safe, they’ve saved many thousands of lives and people should come forward to get their jabs and we’ll make sure that they get the right jabs.”
The Prime Minister also added on Twitter: “As the regulators have said, this vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives - and the vast majority of people should continue to take it when offered.
“We will follow today’s updated advice, which should allow people of all ages to continue to have full confidence in vaccines, helping us save lives and cautiously return towards normality.”
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that the benefits of the jab still outweigh the potential risks of “extremely rare” blood clots.
MHRA’s Chief Executive, Dr June Raine, said: “Based on the current evidence, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca against Covid-19 and its associated risks - hospitalisation and death - continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.
“Our review has reinforced that the risk of this rare suspected side effect remains extremely small.”
‘We don’t want people to be scared’
The family of Neil Astles, 59, who passed away on Easter Sunday after receiving his first AstraZeneca dose on March 17, told the Telegraph that they wanted the public to continue taking the vaccine.
Dr Alison Astles said: “Despite what happened to our family, we strongly believe that everyone should go for their first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Emotionally, we are completely and utterly furious. We are suffering. But there’s nothing in our minds to be really furious about. My brother was just extraordinarily unlucky.
“If we all have the vaccine, a few of us might have a blood clot, but the evidence is that fewer people will die.
“We trust the process, we trust the regulator, and despite what has happened to our family, we don’t want people to be scared off. That’s the message we want to get across.”
‘The vaccine has proven to be highly effective’
A review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very side effects” of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the EMA, said the review “confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risk of side effects”, adding: “Vaccination is extremely important in helping us in the fight against Covid-19.”
Dr Sabine Straus, Safety Committee Chairwoman at the EMA, said: “This vaccine has proven to be highly effective, it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation and it is saving lives.
“Vaccination is extremely important in helping us in the fight against Covid-19 and we need to use the vaccines we have to protect us from the devastating effects.”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site National World