Coronavirus UK news – AstraZeneca vaccine SUSPENDED in Brits under 30 amid blood clot fears threatening lockdown roadmap

ASTRAZENECA's Covid jab will no longer be offered to Brits under the age of 30 amid fears of extremely rare blood clots.

People aged 18-29 will now be given an alternative vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna after clotting cases throughout Europe.

This afternoon the EMA concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the jab.

And the UK's regulatory body, the MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), met today to discuss the blood clot risks and what age groups the jab should be given to.

Dr June Raine, Chief Executive for the MHRA, said the "risk remains extremely small" despite "evidence firming" up of links between jabs and blood clots.

She said there have been 71 clots reported up to March 31 – all occurred with the first dose.

Experts had earlier suggested the rollout to under-50s should also be halted amid fears of the unusual side-effects, but concern is largely for younger people.

Last night the University of Oxford paused trials of its AstraZeneca vaccine on children and teenagers over concerns of the risk in young people.

A probe has been launched to make sure the jab is completely safe before the trials restart.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Dan Keane

    YOUNGER BRITS SHOULD 'MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION'

    JCVI chair Professor Wei Shen recommended those who are just over the age in which the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab will no longer be offered should make their own decision but insisted taking it is the safer option.

    He told the briefing: "For somebody who is 31 or 32 I think they have to make their own decision as to what they want to do about vaccination.

    "We would still say that the balance is in favour of being vaccinated because of the risk from Covid-19 and the protection the vaccine offers."

  • Dan Keane

    IMMUNE RESPONSE IS 'PLAUSIBLE' EXPLANATION FOR BLOOD CLOTS

    A plausible explanation for rare blood clotting side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine could be an immune response similar to conditions seen in patients treated with the anticoagulant – commonly known as blood thinner – heparin, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

    Dr Sabine Straus, EMA safety committee chairwoman Dr Sabine Straus, said: "Current available data did not allow us to identify a definite cause for these complications.

    "However possible plausible explanations have been put forward, including an immune response that leads to a condition that seems similar to atypical to heparin-induced thrombocytopenia."

  • Dan Keane

    IMMUNE RESPONSE IS 'PLAUSIBLE' EXPLANATION FOR BLOOD CLOTS

    A plausible explanation for rare blood clotting side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine could be an immune response similar to conditions seen in patients treated with the anticoagulant – commonly known as blood thinner – heparin, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

    Dr Sabine Straus, EMA safety committee chairwoman Dr Sabine Straus, said: "Current available data did not allow us to identify a definite cause for these complications.

    "However possible plausible explanations have been put forward, including an immune response that leads to a condition that seems similar to atypical to heparin-induced thrombocytopenia."

  • Dan Keane

    JVT: IT'S NORMAL TO ALTER VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS

    Professor Van Tam said it was "quite normal" and "business as usual" for medics to alter their preferences on how to treat patients.

    "This is a massive beast that we are driving along at enormous pace with enormous success, this vaccine programme," he said.

    "If you sail a massive liner across the Atlantic then it's not really reasonable that you aren't going to have to make at least one course correction during that voyage."

  • Dan Keane

    JVT ACKNOWLEDGES DELAYS TO RECEIVING JAB

    Professor Van-Tam acknowledged the change in recommended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine might result in delays and longer journeys to receive the jab.

    He added: "The NHS has a message that we will get the right vaccine to you in the right time according to the new JCVI advice.

    "There might be a small delay sometimes, there might be a slightly greater distance that some people might be asked to travel.

    "But the NHS is all over this and understands the challenge of making the advice from JCVI truly operational in a smooth way."

  • Dan Keane

    JVT: PROPOSED VACCINE CHANGES ARE 'A CORRECTION'

    England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the changes being proposed to the vaccination rollout were a "course correction".

    He told a press conference: "The UK vaccine programme has been the most enormous success indeed.

    "If you had said to me that by March 2021 we would not have needed a course correction, that also would have amazed me."

  • Dan Keane

    WHAT VACCINES DOES THE UK HAVE?

    • Oxford and AstraZeneca: 100 million doses ordered – currently only recommended for over-30s only
    • BioNTech and Pfizer: 40 million doses ordered – currently being given to anyone eligible
    • Moderna: 17 million doses ordered – currently being given to anyone eligible in Wales
    • Janssen: 30 million doses ordered – use expected from July
    • Valneva: 100 million doses ordered
    • Novavax: 60 million doses ordered

    EMA: ASTRAZENECA CASE 'DEMONSTRATES CHALLENGE' OF JAB PROGRAMME

    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the case "clearly demonstrates" the challenges of a large-scale vaccination programme.

    Executive director Emer Cooke said: "This case clearly demonstrates one of the challenges posed by large-scale vaccination campaigns.

    "When millions of people receive these vaccines, very rare events can occur that were not identified during the clinical trials.

    "The role of pharmacovigilance, the monitoring of the side effects, is to help us to rapidly detect and analyse these risks, and their impact on the benefit risk profile of the vaccine."

    BORIS 'TO FOLLOW ADVICE ON JAB CAREFULLY'

    Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will carefully follow the advice on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from the MHRA and JCVI but does not believe he will have to alter the schedule for easing the lockdown.

    During a visit to Cornwall, he said: "I think the crucial thing on this is to listen to what the scientists, and the doctors, the medical experts, have to say.

    "The MHRA is meeting, the JCVI is meeting, they'll be setting out the position and we will get on with rolling out the vaccine and obviously we'll follow very carefully what they have to say.

    "I don't think anything that I have seen leads me to suppose that we will have to change the road map or deviate from the road map in any way."

    • Dan Keane

      EMA: ASTRAZENECA JAB 'PROVEN TO BE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE'

      The European Medicines Agency reiterated that the AstraZeneca vaccine had been "proven to be highly effective" and that vaccination as a whole is "extremely important" in the fight against Covid-19.

      Executive director Emer Cooke told a Brussels press briefing: "Covid-19 is a very serious disease with high hospitalisation and death rates and everyday Covid is still causing thousands of deaths across the EU.

      "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."

    • Dan Keane

      BRITS AGED 18-29 WILL BE OFFERED ALTERNATIVE TO ASTRAZENECA JAB

      Brits aged between 18-29 will be offered an alternative to the Astrazeneca jab where possible, government advisors have decided.

      Currently, the UK is also rolling out the Pfizer jab and the Moderna jab.

      It follows a review from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

    • Dan Keane

      AGE AND GENDER 'NOT CLEAR RISK FACTORS'

      Sabine Straus, Chair of the EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee, said: “Although most of the cases occurred in people under 60 years and in women, due to different ways the vaccine in being use in different countries, the #PRAC did not conclude that age and gender were clear risk factors for these very rare side effects.”

    • Dan Keane

      'BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE RISKS'

      The European Medical Agency has said that that the "benefit of the AstraZeneca jab outweighs the risks".

      They said their conclusion was based on immunological and clinical assessment.

    • Dan Keane

      BREAKING: EMA CONCLUDES BLOOD CLOTS SHOULD BE LISTED AS 'VERY RARE SIDE EFFECT'

      A review by the European Medicines Agency's safety committee has concluded that "unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects" of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    • Dan Keane

      ESTONIA SUSPENDS ASTRAZENECA JAB FOR UNDER 60S

      Estonia has suspended the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for people under the age of 60, the Baltic country's public broadcaster reported.

      It said the decision responded to reports that the vaccine may be associated with a rare blood clotting syndrome.

       

    • Dan Keane

      FIVE FURTHER DEATHS IN SCOTLAND

      The deaths of five Covid-19 patients have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours, along with 289 new cases.

      The latest data published by the Scottish Government indicates the death toll is 7,619.

      Meanwhile, the daily test positivity rate of 1.5 per cent, down from 2 per cent on Tuesday.

    • Dan Keane

      FURTHER 42 DEATHS

      A further 42 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.

      It brings the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 86,476.

      Patients were aged between 33 and 98 and all except two (aged 33 and 55) had known underlying health conditions.

      The deaths occurred between October 20 and April 6.

      There were 17 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

    • Dan Keane

      GCSES & A-LEVELS SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH 'MORE FLEXIBLE' ASSESSMENTS – UNION

      GCSEs and A-levels should be replaced with alternative assessments in the long term, teachers have said.

      School staff now have a "golden opportunity" to stop "toxic testing" amid growing calls to reform the national assessments, the National Education Union's (NEU) virtual annual conference heard.

      A motion passed at the conference called for GCSEs and A-levels to be replaced with "more flexible" means of assessment.

      It added that the conference supports "the radical transformation of A-levels and post-16 qualifications to broaden the choices available to students, supporting them in accessing future learning and careers."

    • Dan Keane

      IRAN PASSES DAILY INFECTIONS RECORD

      Iran passed its daily record of coronavirus infection today as cases reached 20,954.

      This is up by more than 3,500 from the previous day, the Iranian health ministry said.

      Iran, the epicentre of the pandemic in the Middle East, has reported a total of 1,984,348 cases.

    • Dan Keane

      JVT TO HOST VACCINE BRIEFING

      England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is to host a briefing with the medicines regulator following an investigation into the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and potential links with blood clots.

      Prof Van-Tam will be joined by Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines, and Professor Wei Shen, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

      We'll have all the latest here.

    • Dan Keane

      STARMER: KEEP GETTING THE ASTRAZENECA JAB

      Sir Keir Starmer said people should continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine if invited to get a jab.

      The Labour leader said it was "perfectly safe" ahead of an expected announcement by regulators later today.

      He told reporters in Plymouth: "We'll wait to see what is said this afternoon in relation to AstraZeneca. I would encourage everybody who is invited to come forward to have the vaccine, to come forward and have it.

      "I did, and I had the AstraZeneca jab, perfectly safe.

      "I think that the most important thing coming out of this pandemic is that we get just as many people vaccinated as possible."

    • Dan Keane

      MARSTON'S CONFIRMS PLANS TO REOPEN 700 ENGLISH PUBS WITH BEER GARDENS NEXT WEEK

      Pub chain Marston's has reaffirmed plans to open around 700 beer gardens and other outdoor spaces across England next week as restrictions ease.

      The company said it is opening approximately 70% of its 1,000 managed and franchised pubs in England.

      From Monday, Government rules will allow pubs and restaurants to reopen to serve customers in beer gardens or other outdoor serving areas.

      It follows months of complete shutdown for the sector.

    • Dan Keane

      3PM BRIEFING ON OXFORD JAB

      The UK medicines regulator will give an update on its investigation into whether the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is directly causing rare brain blood clots at 3pm in a televised briefing.

      We'll have all the latest here.

    • Dan Keane

      MORE EU COUNTRIES ADDED TO IRELAND'S QUARANTINE LIST

      People travelling from some European Union countries could be forced to isolate in Ireland's mandatory quarantine hotels.

      France, Italy and Germany could be included, with transport minister Eamon Ryan saying the Government has been responding to the public's concerns over the high rates of infections in those countries.

      It comes as 26 more countries were added to the list last week.

    • Dan Keane

      WHAT HAS ASTRAZENECA SAID?

      • AstraZeneca has said it will continue to analyse its database to understand "whether these very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia occur any more commonly than would be expected naturally in a population of millions of people".
      • Meanwhile on Tuesday, a trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on children was paused, but the scientists involved said there were no safety concerns with the trial itself.

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