THE ASTRAZENECA coronavirus vaccine is linked to a "slight increased risk of bleeding disorders", a new study has revealed.
Millions of people have now received a coronavirus vaccine and the research suggests that both the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and the Pfizer jab have been "well tolerated".
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Experts at the University of Edinburgh analysed patients who received a first dose of the two jabs.
They found that there was a a small increased risk of an autoimmune bleeding disorder known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) associated with the AZ vaccine.
The results of the study come after A Place In The Sun's Laura Hamilton went to hospital after having a bad reaction to her second coronavirus jab.
The TV star, who suffers from immune deficiency disease idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, developed blood spots and was urged to go to A&E.
Experts today said the risks from taking the vaccine remains lower than the risk of complications caused by Covid-19.
Side effects are common with all medications not just vaccines.
So far in the UK 40.5 million people have had a first dose of their coronavirus vaccine, with 28.2 million having had a second.
While most people won't have any side effects some have complained or a sore arm (usually pain at the site of injection) and fatigue.
The new research suggested there may be evidence of an increased risk of other bleeding and vascular events associated with the AZ vaccine.
Researchers said these very small risks are important but rare, and are comparable with those of other jabs, including vaccines against hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, and flu.
What isimmune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a disorder that can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding.
It results from unusually low levels of platelets which is what helps the blood to clot.
The symptoms are:
- Blood in urine or stools
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Superficial bleeding
- Easy or expressive bruising
- Bleeding from the gum or nose
The condition can be caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys platelets.
It is more common in young women and people who suffer from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
Throughout the vaccine rollout the jabs have been well-tolerated and there have been a handful of patients who had had severe side effects.
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) received 209 reports of thrombocytopenic and thromboembolic cases – bleeding disorders and blood clot disorders, respectively – after 22 million first doses and 6.8 million second doses of the AZ jab.
Aziz Sheikh at the University of Edinburgh and his team looked at data from vaccine-related bleeding and vascular events among 2.53 million adults in Scotland (57% of the adult population aged 18 and older) who received their first doses of vaccines between December and April.
For these people the AZ jab was associated with a slightly increased risk of ITP up to 27 days after vaccination.
ITP can cause different symptoms in different patients.
Some will just experience bruising while others could have excessive bleeding or long-term illness.
This was at an estimated frequency of 1.13 cases per 100,000 first-dose vaccinations.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology said said the occurrence of ITP after the Oxford jab "appears to be extremely rare.
He explained: "As with other potential side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines, this risk remains far lower than the risks of serious health effects associated with Covid-19."
What are the different types of blood clots?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs.
The signs and symptoms of a DVT include:
- Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
- Leg pain or tenderness
- Reddish / blue skin discoloration
- Leg (or arm) warm to touch
The signs and symptoms of a Pulmonary embolism include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; that may get worse with deep breaths
- A rapid heart rate
- Unexplained cough, sometimes with blood-streaked mucus
Another blood clotting condition is thrombocytopenia, which is when your blood platelet count is so low that the blood is not efficiently clotting when it needs to.
In rare cases, the number of platelets can be so low that dangerous internal bleeding occurs.
The signs and symptoms of thrombocytopenia include:
- Easy or excessive bruising (purpura)
- Superficial bleeding into the skin that appears as a rash of pinpoint-sized reddish-purple spots (petechiae), usually on the lower legs
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Bleeding from your gums or nose
- Blood in urine or stools
- Unusually heavy menstrual flows
- Enlarged spleen
Dr Brown said it was important to note the limitations of the study – as fewer young people had been vaccinated at the time.
"All the approved Covid-19 vaccines in the UK have been through rigorous clinical trials to ensure their safety and continue to be closely monitored during the rollout by the UK regulator.
"Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from falling ill with Covid-19 and we continue to encourage people to accept the offer of both doses of the vaccine", he added.
The study was published in Nature Medicine and comes after the MHRA advised people under the age of 40 to not get the AZ vaccine as a precautionary measure after it was linked to blood clots.
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