AstraZeneca admits its Covid vaccine can cause rare side-effect

AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine (Covishield / Vaxzevria) may cause thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)

As many as 1,749,417,978 doses of Covishield vaccine have been administered in India (photo: @SerumInstIndia/X)
As many as 1,749,417,978 doses of Covishield vaccine have been administered in India (photo: @SerumInstIndia/X)

NH Digital

Prominent pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has made a significant admission regarding its Covid-19 vaccine, acknowledging that in very rare cases, it can lead to thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), per various media reports.

According to a Hindustan Times report, this admission came to light when a legal document was submitted to a UK High Court in February, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing discourse around vaccine safety.

TTS is an exceptionally rare condition, characterised by blood clots (thrombosis) and low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) and having potentially severe consequences. It is also termed as VITT, which stands for 'vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia'.

In India, the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in collaboration with University of Oxford, was sold under the brand name Covishield and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune. When the TOI tried to contact the institute, SII refused to comment.

As many as 1,749,417,978 doses of Covishield vaccine have been administered in India, in what was the world’s largest vaccination drive (in terms of population), since January 2021, according to the vaccine dashboard of the government web portal CoWIN (as of 10:30 p.m. 29 April 2024) .

The link between the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and TTS emerged following the rollout of vaccination campaigns worldwide.

Jamie Scott, a father of two, became a focal point in this discussion after suffering permanent brain injury due to TTS following his vaccination in April 2021. His case, along with numerous others', highlights the devastating impact of TTS—and eventually prompted legal action against AstraZeneca, as reported in the Hindustan Times.

Scott's wife, Kate, expressed both relief and frustration at AstraZeneca's admission, emphasising the need for accountability.

She said, per a Business Standard report: "The medical world has acknowledged for a long time that vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) was caused by the vaccine."

The legal battle against AstraZeneca has now intensified, with a class action lawsuit with plaintiffs representing a number of victims and their bereaved relatives. These plaintiffs seek damages exceeding £100 million, as per TOI.

This is not the first time that the company has been on questioned about the safety of its vaccine. A New York Times article published in March 2023 had also highlighted how analysis of immunisation and death records in Britain had stirred discussions regarding the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, particularly among young women. The analysis had suggested a potential association between the vaccine and an elevated risk of cardiac-related deaths within 12 weeks of vaccination.

As the case unfolds, the spotlight remains on AstraZeneca's response and the steps it will take.

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