Local doctor addresses blood clot concerns linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Covishield is India’s name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Photo courtesy EPA)
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A medical practitioner has given his perspective amid fears that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be linked to blood clots among recipients, after several countries suspended the use of the vaccine pending the outcome of a World Health Organization (WHO) investigation into the claims.

AstraZeneca has maintained that the vaccine is safe, noting that of the over 17 million people who have already received the jab across Europe, only 37 reports of clots have been made.

Dr George Mansoor, while speaking on the Observer AM radio show on Wednesday, noted that these reports must be taken into context since the numbers alone are not helpful.

“What we really need is the rate that we are seeing. We all know that vaccines are really given to prevent a certain event. So, in this case, we are giving the vaccine to prevent the person from acquiring or getting really ill from the Covid-19 virus. This vaccine does not affect all the other things that are happening in the background that were happening before covid came on the scene. The other causes of death whether it be hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease — these are things that are happening all the time in society, even long before Covid. They are still going to be seen at a similar rate after you institute the vaccination,” he said.

Dr Mansoor said that, in trying to identify a link between an adverse event and a vaccine, regulators must assess whether the agents in the vaccine are capable of causing the ailment in question, also known as biological plausibility. 

“Biological plausibility is very important. In this case, there is no such biological plausibility. Even the critics have not been able to say, ‘well, this is how this could happen’,” he added.

He was adamant that regulators must also determine if the adverse event has increased in frequency, compared to before the vaccine was administered.

“That is why AstraZeneca, the WHO and these other bodies have been able to say ‘look, we know what the background rates for these types of complications are in the European population and here is the rate that we have been reported to on the AstraZeneca vaccine’. And guess what? the rate is actually lower on the group that has received the vaccine; it is not higher and hence the likelihood that it is related to the vaccine is very low,” Dr Mansoor explained.

Dr Mansoor said blood clots are very common with about 300 people in every hundred thousand encountering problems with the problem over time.

He, however, added that there may be a legitimate concern involving the blood clot reports in Germany.

There have been no formal reports from the Ministry of Health in Antigua and Barbuda or other countries within the region concerning blood clots occurring in people who received the AstraZeneca shot.

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