AstraZeneca vaccine still safe despite ‘stronger link’ to blood clots, Health Canada says

Health Canada will not be changing its recommendations for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine despite new evidence suggesting a “stronger link” to blood clots, the agency’s chief medical adviser said on Wednesday.

“We didn’t find any specific risk factors, such as age or sex, so we are therefore not requiring that the vaccine label be updated to restrict the use of the vaccine at this time,” Dr. Supriya Sharma said.

In response to the new evidence, she said Health Canada has updated warnings on the vaccine’s label “so that Canadians can be informed of the side effects.”

Read more: Canada reports 1st blood clot in AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recipient

She added the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) would be meeting again to discuss the vaccine’s age recommendations.

The news comes one day after provincial health authorities in Quebec reported that a woman had developed a blood clot shortly after receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine — the first such report in Canada. She is recovering at home.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks, following several reports of people being hospitalized with blood clots shortly after being immunized.

Click to play video: 'Vaccine blood clot fears' 3:32 Vaccine blood clot fears

Vaccine blood clot fears

On Wednesday, Denmark became the first country in the world to ditch the vaccine completely, and a smattering of other European countries have changed their recommendations for the shot.

Sharma said Health Canada became aware of cases of “very rare blood clots with low platelets” found in people who had received a dose of the vaccine in parts of the U.K. and Europe in March. By the end of March, she said the U.K. had administered more than 20 million doses of the vaccine. Of those, the country’s health regulator found 79 reports of blood clotting.

As of April 3, Sharma said Canada had administered more than 484,000 doses of the AstraZeneca and CoviShield

More to come. 

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