UK Child Trials of AstraZeneca Vaccine Suspended Amid Blood Clot Fears

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Clinical Pharmacist Ellie Morton prepares to administer the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine at the community vaccination centre at Kingston University's Penrhyn Road campus on March 12, 2021 in London, England. Working in partnership with two local Primary Care Networks, South West London CCG and Kingston …
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

A children’s trial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been halted by the University of Oxford amid concerns that the jab may cause blood clotting in adults.

The trial of the vaccine, which began in February and has seen over 200 children between the age of 6 and 17-years-old tested, was suspended on Tuesday following concerns raised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Professor Andrew Pollard of Oxford University told the BBC that though there have been no safety concerns found within the trial itself, the trial will be put on hold until regulators from the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have reviewed the blood clotting issue.

“Whilst there are no safety concerns in the paediatric clinical trial, we await additional information from the MHRA on its review of rare cases of thrombosis/thrombocytopaenia that have been reported in adults, before giving any further vaccinations in the trial,” Prof Pollard said.

The suspension of the trial came in the wake of the head of vaccines for the EMA, Marco Cavaleri saying of the link between the vaccine and blood clotting: “In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear there is an association with the vaccine. What causes this reaction, however, we still do not know.”

The European Medicines Agency, however, said that it had “not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing”, with the results of a review expected to be revealed this week.

Britain’s regulator, the MHRA said that people should continue to take the vaccine as the benefits currently outweigh the risk, despite an ongoing investigation into the death of seven people from the vaccine and 30 cases of clotting in the UK.

Reports have also suggested that the regulator is considering banning the use of the vaccine for younger people. Several European nations have already banned the use of the AstraZeneca jab for younger people, including France, Germany, and The Netherlands.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to one of AstraZeneca’s factories on Tuesday that people should continue to take the vaccine.

“On the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator – that’s why we have them, that’s why they are independent,” Mr Johnson said, adding: “Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.”

“The best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that’s the key thing and that’s what I would advocate, number one,” the Prime Minister explained.

A member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), Dr Maggie Wearmouth, suggested that the government should slow down the rollout of the vaccine for those under the age of 50 while the clotting issue is being investigated.

“We have to show that perhaps slowing things down, not rolling out phase two at this stage… until we’re absolutely certain,” Dr Wearmouth told The Telegraph.

“The issue is about safety and public confidence. We don’t want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing. We’re not here to blindly follow targets or due dates. We will do what is necessary for the British public,” she added.

A spokesman from the UK’s Department of Health said: “The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in this country. As the UK’s independent regulator has said, when people are called forward they should get the jab.”

 

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