People under 30 should not take AstraZeneca vaccine when alternative jab available - 19 deaths in people who took AstraZeneca vaccine recorded in UK - Blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of AstraZeneca vaccine says EMA
People under 30 should not receive the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine when an alternative jab is available, medical experts have declared.
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LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus NI - AstraZeneca jab benefits ‘outweigh risks’ but under-30s offered alternative
Last updated: Wednesday, 07 April, 2021, 15:23
AstraZeneca jab benefits ‘outweigh risks’ but under-30s offered alternative
The benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh any risks for most people, the UK medicines watchdog has said, as European regulators ruled that unusual blood clots were “very rare side effects” of the jab.
A review by the European Medicines Agency’s safety committee concluded on Wednesday that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Emer Cooke, executive director of EMA, said its review “confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risk of side effects,” adding: “Vaccination is extremely important in helping us in the fight against Covid-19.”
In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there were still huge benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 and serious disease.
However, due to a very small number of blood clots in younger people, those under the age of 30 will be offered Pfizer or Moderna instead.
Up to March 31, the MHRA has received 79 reports of blood clots accompanied by low blood platelet count, all in people who had their first dose of the vaccine.
Of these 79, a total of 19 people have died, although it has not been established what the cause was in every case.
The 79 cases occurred in 51 women and 28 men, aged from 18 to 79.
Of the 19 who died, three were under the age of 30, the MHRA said.
Some 14 cases of the 19 were cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a specific type of clot that prevents blood from draining from the brain.
The other five cases were thrombosis.
The MHRA has concluded that the balance of risk for the vaccine is “very favourable for older people” but more finely balanced for younger groups.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government believes the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe”, telling reporters on a visit to Cornwall: “But the crucial thing for everybody is to listen to what the scientists, the medical experts have to say later on today.”
He added on the vaccination programme: “You can really start to see some of the benefits of that – it’s pretty clear that the decline in the number of deaths, the decline in the number of hospitalisations is being fuelled, is being assisted, the steepness of that decline is being helped by the rollout of the vaccines so it’s very important for everybody to continue to get your second jab when you’re asked to come forward for your turn.”
More than 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have now been given in the UK, saving an estimated 6,000 lives.
Dates for when hairdressers and other close contact services can reopen to be confirmed soon
The Northern Ireland Executive hopes to publish dates for the reopening of hairdressers, beauticians and non-essential retail when it meets next week - writes Cate McCurry, PA.
Arlene Foster said it is important to give certainty to people, and that a timeline to reopen close contact services could be published at the Executive meeting on April 15.
A number of lockdown restrictions will be eased from April 12, including the reopening of garden centres and car washes.
Contactless click-and-collect for all non-essential retail will also resume.
Mrs Foster said on Tuesday that the number of daily Covid-19 cases continues to fall.
“As you’ve seen from our colleagues in Westminster they have been moving ahead in relation to the relaxation of the Covid regulations,” the DUP leader added.
“It’s very important that we also continue to relax the Covid regulations because the statistics are very good again today.
“If you look at the statistics, the numbers of positive cases have again shown to be very small, which of course is welcome.
“My colleague, Diane Dodds (Minister for the Economy), has put papers in in relation to the lifting of restrictions in terms of close contact services, hairdressers and beauticians and non-essential retail, which of course is very important as well.
“I do hope that we will be able to give dates in relation to those issues when we next go to the Executive to look at these issues.
“It is important that we do give some certainty to people and I think that what you will see coming out of the next Executive are some timelines in relation to non-essential retail and close contact services.
“We do of course recognise that we’re still waiting on the global travel taskforce to hear what the outcome of that is.
“We’re hoping that that’s going to come before the end of the week.
“There’s still a huge amount of work to do in relation to the lifting of Covid restrictions.”
It comes as the Department of Health confirmed three more deaths linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours.
An additional 57 positive cases were also reported – the lowest number in a 24-hour period since September.
Meanwhile, three people have been arrested and 94 Covid-19 fines were issued by police investigating house parties in south Belfast.
Officers were called to the Holyland area in the early hours of Tuesday.
Four people were also reported to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and one community resolution notice was issued.
Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “We received a number of reports throughout yesterday afternoon, last night and into the early hours of this morning of anti-social behaviour in the Holylands area.
“Officers attended on a number of occasions to disperse various groups of people.
“Police would encourage residents to continue to report issues of anti-social behaviour to them.
“While local officers will be making follow-up enquiries, it is disappointing that we continue to receive reports about noisy parties and anti-social behaviour in this residential area.
“In light of last night’s events police are currently in the Holylands and will continue to have a nightly policing operation in this area this week.
“Local residents should be respected and should not have to contend with this type of behaviour.”
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to be offered to people in NI within weeks
The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine will be available in Northern Ireland within the next two weeks according to Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi.
Unpaid carer Elle Taylor, 24, from Ammanford, became the first person in the UK to receive the Moderna vaccine when she was given the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen on Wednesday morning.
“It’ll be in deployment around the third week of April,” Minister Zahawi told BBC TV.
There are currently two Covid-19 vaccines in operation in Northern Ireland - AstraZeneca and Pfizer.