Compiled By Markson Omagor
European scientists believe they have an explanation for the blood clots reported in a tiny number of people who received Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.
Two separate research teams in Germany and Norway found the shot can in very rare cases cause the body to attack its own blood platelets, triggering deadly clots in the brain.
The experts said that patients who suffer headaches or dizziness four days after getting the jab could be quickly diagnosed with a blood test and treated with blood thinning medication.
The German team, which collaborated with scientists in the UK, Ireland and Austria, said its findings meant people should not fear the vaccine.
However, Norway’s health ministry has used the results to extend its ban on the British-made vaccine.
More than a dozen European countries suspended the AZ jab last week after more than 30 patients suffered cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT). Most of the patients were under the age of 55 and a disproportionate number were women.
The extremely rare condition, which sees a major vein in the brain become blocked, is thought to have affected fewer than one in 2million vaccinated people.
AstraZeneca still maintains that the clots are not occurring anymore frequently than they would in the general population, a claim which has been echoed by medical regulators in the UK and EU.
The research teams from Oslo and Greifswald University believe the vaccine causes the body to produce antibodies – normally used to fight off infections or pathogens – which interact with their platelets, either by attacking them or congealing with them, thickening the blood.
But the experts have admitted they ‘don’t know why this is happening’. Neither the German nor the Norwegian findings were published or peer reviewed.
Andreas Greinacher, professor of transfusion medicine at the Greifswald University Clinic, said his team would submit the results for publication to the British medical journal The Lancet in the coming days.
The German team looked at nine cases of blood clots reported in Germany and Austria after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Seven patients had cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), which is a blood clot in the brain; one had a pulmonary embolism, and one had CVT had splanchnic vein thrombosis, which occurs when a vein in the abdomen clots.
Blood samples from four of the individuals showed they had the same kind of antibodies that activate platelets and initiate clotting in HIT.
These samples were then compared to 20 individuals who were given the AstraZeneca vaccine and did not experience blood clots.
None of this group has these antibodies.
The researchers advise anyone receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine to keep an eye out for any bruising, swelling or headaches that begin four or more days after being immunized.
If vaccine recipients identify any of these symptoms early on, the situation can be treated easily by a doctor.
Meanwhile, a group of researchers in Norway say have been studying three cases of blood clots post-AstraZeneca vaccination.
Professor Pål Andre Holme of Oslo University Hospital told Norwegian newspaper VG that he’s reached the same conclusion, that is due to antibodies causing an overreaction to the vaccine.
‘Our theory that this is a strong immune response that most likely comes after the vaccine,’ Holme said, according to an NPR translation.
‘There is no other thing than the vaccine that can explain this immune response.’
It comes on the heels of news that Canada is suspending use of the vaccine for people under age of 55 due to blood clot fears.
Some countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, resumed vaccinations with AstraZeneca’s shot last week, with the added warning that it could in very rare circumstances cause clotting.
Others, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark, have still not resumed their rollouts.