The keys to the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of thrombosis

A medical worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Belgium. (Photo: Reuters / Yves Herman)

The AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 has been one of the global pillars of the fight against SARS-CoV-2, and is now on the ‘bench’ for the confirmation of risks due to thrombosis associated with its application.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that there is a strange link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare formation of blood clots, thrombosis, and a low platelet count.

However, the EMA and UK regulatory authorities spoke out for continue using the vaccine, since its benefits against Covid-19 are greater than the risks detected.

What do we know about the AstraZeneca vaccine?

European health regulators found a possible link in the application of the vaccine and the formation of “rare” blood clots, with a low platelet count.

What EMA doctors have detected is that the immune substance in the vaccine causes a reaction in which antibodies stick to platelets and activate them.

This immune reaction on platelets would be causing the formation of dangerous clots in certain parts of the body, doctors in Germany agreed.

In some cases these clots form thrombosis in the veins that drain blood from the brain, which in some analyzed cases led to a rare type of stroke.

Although until this moment the specialists in Europe do not know the causes of what was already classified as a rare side reaction from the AstraZeneca vaccine, a response would point to an excessive immune reaction or a component of the substance, or both.

Other information about the vaccine: 1.5 million vaccines will arrive from AstraZeneca. This is what the studies say

Who is at risk?

The lack of studies does not yet allow researchers to determine a population group delimited by age, sex or health conditions that is more prone to risk.

However, as a preventive measure, countries in Europe decided to suspend its application in people under 55 years old.

The Executive Director of the EMA, Emer Cooke, pointed out that most of the serious cases were registered in women under 60 years of age.

Even in the UK, the health authority recommended suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in young adults under 30 years of age.

The criterion was that the benefit of immunization with this vaccine slightly outweighed the benefit of receiving it, mainly in healthy people and out of risk of contagion situations.

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What if I have already been vaccinated with AstraZeneca?

Following the announcement, European regulatory authorities recommended that doctors and people who have already received this vaccine be aware of the risks of rare clot formation and low platelet levels.

They indicated that the formation of these clots appeared in the patients studied within two weeks of the first dose.

Some of the symptoms that they detected prior to a serious case of clots were shortness of breath, chest pain, or leg swelling.

In the case of people who have already received the first dose, the recommendation was that they go to receive the second according to the specified time.

What do the cases in Europe show?

Germany decided to suspend the application of the AstraZeneca vaccine since last week after analyzing 31 cases.

Of the total, 29 corresponded to women between 20 and 63 years old, and nine of the patients died, detailed a report published by Reuters.

Meanwhile, the EMA reported 18 fatal cases of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a review of 62 cases of thrombosis in the veins that drain blood from the brain, and 24 of clotting in the abdominal region.

In the case of the United Kingdom, the health authorities indicated that people who are at the age limit, between 31 and 32 years, the decision to receive this dose must be personal and according to an assessment of the risk of contagion.

They also indicated that for these age groups they will offer a vaccination alternative.

In all cases, the European authorities recommended continue immunization and use of this vaccine given the risks that Covid-19 entails as a very serious disease.

What happens in Mexico?

Until April 5, Mexico had 3.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines, which have been applied en masse, mainly in six municipalities of Mexico City.

So far, only people over 60 years of age in Mexico have received this vaccine.

Nor does it exist official information of a confirmed case in Mexico thrombosis, blood clots, or low platelet counts in people who received this vaccine.

Around the world, 111 countries from different economic contexts apply the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.