EMA estimates that blood clots are a side effect in 1 in 100,000 people who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccinePhoto: AP Photo / Matthias Schrader
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) estimates that 1 in 100,000 people who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine have serious side effects of blood clots and low platelet counts.

The EMA has carried out a comparison of how many hospital admissions and deaths the vaccine can prevent, compared to how many people get the side effects.

According to the EMA, when it comes to hospital admissions and the number of intensive care patients, the vaccine prevents more cases than the side effects create for all age groups in countries with high infection pressure. It is among the younger age groups that clearly most cases of the serious, and in some cases fatal, side effects have been identified.

More side effects than prevented deaths

When it comes to deaths, the numbers are different. According to EMA figures, in a group of 100,000 people, the vaccine will not prevent any deaths in the 20–29 age group, even in countries with high infection pressure. At the same time, there will be 1.9 cases of serious side effects per 100,000 vaccinated in this group.

The EMA’s conclusion from the figures is that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks, especially for older age groups. They thus still give the vaccine the green light.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine prevents hospitalizations, and thus also deaths. The benefits outweigh the risks. It is important to point out that the data show that the benefit of the vaccine increases the older you are,” Peter Arlett, head of data analysis at EMA, said.

“We will continue to follow developments closely,” he added.

Less effect in countries with low infection pressure

According to the EMA’s overview, in countries with low infection pressure, the vaccine will not prevent any deaths in the group between 20 and 39 years. In the 40–49 group, the vaccine will prevent one death per 100,000 inhabitants. At the same time, there will be 5.8 cases of serious side effects in the group 20–49 years.

“If you only look at one factor, such as deaths in countries with low infection, it is easy to ask questions about the vaccine. But we have to see the bigger picture and look at all the factors,” Arlett said.

He said that the overview must not be interpreted as meaning that the vaccine is in some cases more dangerous than being infected with the coronavirus.

Most significant benefits for the elderly

And even in countries with low infection pressure, the effect of the vaccine looks very good in older age groups. For 60 to 69-year-olds, 19 hospital admissions per 100,000 inhabitants are averted, while the statistics indicate one case of serious side effects.

In the age group 70–79, 45 hospital admissions are prevented due to covid-19, while in the age group 80+, the number is 151. This is compared to 0.5 and 0.4 cases of serious side effects, respectively.

In Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) has recommended taking the vaccine out of the vaccination program after making similar calculations. Norway has a low infection pressure, and the FHI concluded that the vaccine creates more serious disease cases than it prevents for those under 50 in Norway.

An expert panel will present its report on May 10, after which the government will decide on the vaccine’s future in Norway. It will also affect the use of the Janssen vaccine, which is being investigated for similar side effects.

AstraZeneca effect compared to side effects

The European Medicines Agency assessed the effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine against side effects. Thus, the figures for countries with low infection pressure, per 100,000 inhabitants (the number of side effects with blood clots and a low number of platelets in parentheses) are divided into age groups.

The figures are presented below.

Hospital admissions averted:

20–29: 4 (1.9)

30–39: 5 (1.8)

40–49: 6 (2.1)

50–59: 10 (1.1)

60–69: 19 (1)

70–79: 45 (0.5)

80+: 151 (0.4).

Intensive care admissions averted:

20–29: 0 (1.9)

30–39: 0 (1.8)

40–49: 1 (2.1)

50–59: 1 (1.1)

60–69: 3 (1)

70–79: 6 (0.5)

80+: 13 (0.4).

Deaths averted:

20–29: 0 (1.9)

30–39: 0 (1.8)

40–49: 1 (2.1)

50–59: 1 (1.1)

60–69: 3 (1)

70–79: 14 (0.5)

80+: 90 (0.4).

The figures are based on an infection pressure of no more than 55 daily cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants. In the last 14 days, Norway has had an infection pressure corresponding to 10.2 daily cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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