India says ‘minuscule’ clotting cases after AstraZeneca vaccine

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A medical worker prepares a dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Antwerp, Belgium March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

NEW DELHI -India has found 26 suspected cases of bleeding and clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the health ministry said on Monday, describing the risk as “minuscule” out of the 164 million doses administered.

Some countries have suspended or restricted use of the shot over fears of possible side effects, though health experts have said its benefits outweigh the risks.

This is the first time India has reported any serious reaction to the use of the vaccine, branded locally as Covishield.

India’s adverse events committee reviewed 498 instances of serious and severe side effects following the injection of the shot, the ministry said, 26 of which were potentially “thromboembolic” – meaning the formation of a clot in a blood vessel that might break loose and plug another vessel.

The ministry said the rate of these events in India was about 0.61 per million doses, much lower than Britain’s 4 and Germany’s 10.

“Bleeding and clotting cases following COVID vaccination in India are minuscule and in-line with the expected number of diagnoses of these conditions,” the ministry said in a statement that cited data from the committee.

The vaccine “continues to have a definite positive benefit risk profile with tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths due to COVID-19”, it said.

The ministry did not give details on the nature of the clots.

The committee found no clot-related reactions after the use of domestically developed Covaxin vaccine, of which nearly 19 million doses have been given in India.

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