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UK regulator confirms confidence in AstraZeneca vaccine

UK regulator confirms confidence in AstraZeneca vaccine
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The United Kingdom’s top pharmaceutical regulatory agency said Thursday it did not find evidence that a coronavirus vaccine created by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was responsible for blood clots reported in several people who received the shot in some European countries. 

In a statement, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the benefits of receiving the vaccine still outweigh the extremely small risk involved. 

“Our thorough and careful review, alongside the critical assessment of leading, independent scientists, shows that there is no evidence that that blood clots in veins is occurring more than would be expected in the absence of vaccination, for either vaccine,” said June Raine, chief executive of the regulatory agency.

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Raine said the agency had received reports of a rare form of blood clot, a sinus vein thrombosis, that occurs when someone who received the vaccine experienced a drop in platelets. The agency reviewed five cases of clotting among 11 million Britons who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot.

About a dozen nations, mostly in Europe, paused their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clotting. 

The United Kingdom’s report comes a day after the World Health Organization reiterated its own support for the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot that European nations are increasingly relying upon to bolster their lagging vaccination programs.  

AstraZeneca itself said it had reviewed data on the 17 million people who had received its shot and found fewer than 40 who had developed blood clots. 

“Vaccination against Covid-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally,” the WHO said. “At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue.” 

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.