Many European countries, including Germany, and Canada have stopped the administration of AstraZeneca‘s COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens who are under the age of 60 years and 55 years respectively.
Recipients of the vaccine have complained of blood clots. Due to this complication, many countries have stopped the administration of the vaccine in their younger population. According to Germany’s medical regulator, the formation of these blood clots is rare, but it has been reported in a total of 31 cases. According to a report by Paul Ehrlich Institute, out of the 31 cases, 9 of the people have died; while all the cases except two involved women of age 20-63.
According to the information by WHO, the vaccine was recommended to be given to health workers who were at high risks of exposure to the virus and people above 55 years of age. The vaccine was not recommended for people under 18 years of age, and/or with a severe reaction to any component of the vaccine.
As a result, many countries have stopped the administration of AstraZeneca to people younger than 60 years of age.
Two versions of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio, by the Republic of Korea, and the Serum Institute of India have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organisation. The WHO has responded to the situation by saying that the benefits of the vaccine outweighs its risks, and hence, has recommended that countries continue its use.
Why has the use of the vaccine stopped?
The usage of the vaccine for people of a certain age is stopped due to an adverse effect called Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT). This leads to rare cases of serious blood clots, which also includes blood clots in the brain after 4 to 20 days of vaccination. In this case, platelets count falls, which is responsible for stopping blood loss by forming blood clots.
Most of the cases of VIPIT in Europe have been observed in women who are under the age of 55.
Here are some of the symptoms of VIPIT to look for after 4-20 days of taking the vaccine:
- Severe headache that doesn’t go away
- Difficulty in moving parts of the body
- A Blurry vision that doesn’t go away
- Difficulty in speaking
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe swelling
- Pain/colour change of an arm or a leg