Health Canada confirmed the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca on Wednesday, despite new evidence suggesting a “stronger link” with blood clots.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the agency’s chief medical adviser, said the agency has no plans to change its recommendations but has updated warnings on the vaccine’s label “so that Canadians can be informed of the side effects.”
“We didn’t find any specific risk factors, such as age or sex, so we are therefore not requiring that the vaccine label be updated to restrict the use of the vaccine at this time,” she said.
After completing a safety review, Health Canada concluded the rare adverse events were “possibly linked to the use of the vaccine,” an assessment Sharma said was “consistent” with other international regulators in Europe and the U.K.
“The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh the risk of COVID-19 infection,” she said.
The National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) will be meeting again to discuss the vaccine’s age recommendations. AstraZeneca’s vaccines are currently authorized for adults aged 55 years and older.
The comments from Dr. Sharma come a day after provincial health authorities in Quebec reported a woman had developed a blood clot shortly after receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine dose — the first such report in Canada. The woman, who was not named, is recovering at home.
On Wednesday, Denmark became the first country in the world to completely ditch the vaccine, and a smattering of other European countries have changed their recommendations for the shot.
Blood clotting is a side effect more commonly found with several everyday medications, including birth control and hormone replacement therapy.
According to Dr. Sharma, based on reports in the UK and Europe, about four in a million, or one in every 250,000 people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine had this side effect.
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