Dr. Bonnie Henry reassured British Columbians that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe as several European countries suspend its use over blood clot concerns.
Blood clots can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other problems, depending on where they occur.
The Provincial Health Officer has reported 37 cases of patients experiencing a clot-related issue after vaccination, she said at a news conference Monday. Those cases come after 17 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered.
“That is lower than what we might see in the general population without vaccination,” Henry said.
Right now, it’s not clear if the vaccine played a role in causing those people’s clots or if they just happened to have a clot soon after getting the vaccine, Henry said.
“We know these things can happen naturally,” Henry said. “In a population, they happen at a certain rate.”
So far, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain are among the countries that have stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine while scientists investigate the blood clot cases.
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BC is liaising with Health Canada and the World Health Organization to get information about vaccine lot numbers associated with clotting problems.
Henry acknowledged that COVID-19 infection puts patients at higher risk for developing blood clots, including young people who have died at home from them.
She believes the risk of getting the vaccine is “dramatically decreased” compared to the risk of getting COVID-19.
“We are confident that’s not a risk we’re seeing here in Canada with the SII Covishield vaccine we have,” Henry said.
BC is administering the Covishield brand name vaccine manufactured by Verity Pharmaceuticals and Serum Institute of India in collaboration with AstraZeneca. According to the Government of Canada’s website, this vaccine is comparable to the brand name AstraZeneca vaccine.