I've had a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination three weeks ago. I had no side-effects whatsoever, and unless very dramatic new evidence turns up in the meantime prompting any further change of medical and scientific advice, I shall have no hesitation at all in having the second jab when it is due.
The only clots I am worried about are Anti-Vaxxers.
Both the UK and European medicine safety regulators say that the jab is safe and effective and saves lives.
Because the effects of the vaccination rollout is being extremely carefully monitored, it has been found that of the 20 million people in the UK who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 79 have developed a type of rare blood clot, of whom 19 have died.
You don't need to be Alan Turing to work out that this is slightly less than four people in a million who have had the vaccine and also had blood clots, and slightly less than one in a million who actually died with them.
The regulators have pointed out that there is no proof of a causal relationship between the vaccination and the blood clots - a certain small number of people get these clots anyway. Anyone who assumes that the vaccine caused all these clots is making a mistake so old that scholars of logic usually refer to it by the latin name it was first given many hundreds of years ago - post hoc ergo propter hoc.
That is latin for "After this, therefore because of this," something which does not necessarily follow. As per my quote of the day, correlation does not prove causation.
This type of clotting is very rare, but some people do get these clots anyway, and since 60% of UK adults have had a COVID vaccination, the majority of whom have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, it is almost certain that the group of people vaccinated will include a substantial proportion of the people who were already going to develop these blood clots and would have done so whether they had had the vaccination or not.
It is possible that there may be a correlation, and that that this may be a result of a causal relationship, but as I understand it the scientists are still cautioning us that it has not been proved. And even if it exists the risks are very low indeed, both compared to the risks of dying of COVID-19 and the risks of developing blood clots for other reasons - including COVID-19.
Even if the vaccination did cause these clots, someone my age would be more than a thousand times more likely to die, or for that matter get blood clots, as a result of COVID-19 if I hadn't had the vaccine than I actually am of getting them as a result of having taken the jab. COVID-19 causes side effects too, and one of the things it is associated with is a higher incidence of blood clots. Of cause, correlation does not prove causation in that case either but it is at least as likely.
The same would be true of all the people in their forties and fifties or above who are being offered the vaccination at the moment. Anyone who is concerned that they might be particularly vulnerable to blood clotting or any other issue should seek medical advice from their GP or another medical professional with relevant qualifications.
The review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found:
- Nearly two-thirds of the cases of rare clots were seen in women
- The people who died were aged between 18 and 79, with three of them aged under 30
- All the recorded cases occurred after the first dose, although the lower number of second doses meant it was not possible to draw any conclusions from this
Meanwhile, the EU's medicines regulator, the EMA, says unusual blood clots should be listed as a possible very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab, but that the benefits outweighed the risks.
The World Health Organization said the link between the vaccine and blood clots was "plausible" but not confirmed, adding that the clotting incidents were "very rare" among nearly 200 million people who have received the jab worldwide.