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COVID-19 Vaccination: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may Loose confidence to rare blood clots side-effect

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COVID-19 Vaccination

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the Option offered to under-30s after UK records 79 cases of rare blood clots out of 20m jabs administered

 

Experts warned of damage to confidence in the UK’s vaccine programme after 10 million adults under 30 were told they will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab following concerns over rare blood clots.

Healthy 18 to 29-year-olds who are not at high risk of Covid should have the option of a different jab if one is available in their area, the government’s joint committee on vaccines and immunization (JCVI) said weeks after some European countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca jabs in younger people.

For older people, the benefits of the vaccine – the most widely-used in the UK – far outweigh the risks, the JCVI added. The UK has recorded 79 rare blood clots cases, 19 of whom died, out of 20m AstraZeneca jabs administered.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, called the move “a course correction” and said there should be little or no impact on the vaccine rollout timeline, though he warned that under-30s could face short delays in getting inoculated.

Boris Johnson tweeted: “We will follow today’s updated advice, which should allow people of all ages to continue to have full confidence in vaccines, helping us save lives and cautiously return towards normality.”

Spain Cornella Astrazeneca Covid 19 Vaccine - 07 Apr 2021<br>Mandatory Credit: Photo by Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock (11848049c) A health worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Cornella, Spain, April 7, 2021. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed on Wednesday that the occurrence of blood clots with low blood platelets are strongly associated with the administration of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, but should be still listed as very rare side effects. Spain Cornella Astrazeneca Covid 19 Vaccine - 07 Apr 2021

The recommendation came as it was confirmed that the European regulator is examining whether other vaccines using similar technology to the AstraZeneca jab pose any risk.

There had been three cases of venous thromboembolism blood clots with low platelets involving the Johnson & Johnson jab, a European Medicines Agency (EMA) official said.

Symptoms of the rare brain blood clots include severe headaches and blurred vision, and most cases occur within two weeks of a jab – but such events are treatable if medical help is sought, experts said.

In the UK up to 31 March, there were 79 reports of these rare blood clots with low platelets – some but not all of them in the brain, it was revealed on Wednesday. Of those affected, 19 people died, although it is not known if the blood clots were the cause in every case.

More were women – 51 – and they were all aged 18-79. Three were under 30. But the recommendation of an alternative vaccine for that age group is because their risk from Covid itself is very low.

In older age groups, the experts believe, the benefits of vaccination significantly outweigh the rare side-effect risk, but in younger people “it is more finely balanced”.

Dr June Raine, CEO of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), said the risk was “extremely small” and the authority had not yet concluded that the vaccine was responsible.

“The evidence is firming up. While it is a strong possibility, more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt that the vaccine has caused this side-effect,” she said.

There are concerns, however, that confidence in the AstraZeneca jab has been hit.

“Today’s decision is a severe blow to the public’s vaccine confidence, which is already fragile,” said Dr Chris Papadopoulos, principal lecturer in public health at the University of Bedfordshire. It might be the right decision, but needed to be coupled to efforts to counter vaccine hesitancy, he added.

Prof Martin Hibberd, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said it was a sensible decision. “However, I would like to see the evidence that the other vaccines are safer.”

The Royal College of Midwives said young people and pregnant women would be concerned.

“Although pregnant women who are clinically extremely vulnerable are eligible for the vaccine, those under 30 have seen their options severely limited, as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is not approved for use for them,” said its executive director, Birte Harlev-Lam.

Pregnant women should discuss vaccination with their doctor. Those who have any history of blood clots should not have the AstraZeneca jab.

It came as the EMA said the rare blood clots would be listed formally as a side-effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, though it did not announce any restrictions on use. Several EU countries, including France and Germany, have already limited use to citizens aged over 55 or 60, or suspended its use entirely.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, said: “In the UK, I cannot comment on the decision-making to restrict to a certain age but what I can tell you is there is a lot more use in the younger age groups in the UK than in the EU at the moment and we will certainly take this into account in our further evaluations.”

 

Asked why European countries have different stances from the UK, Adam Finn from the JCVI said Britain had “extremely detailed data” based on a high number of administered AstraZeneca jabs.

“I think other countries in Europe that have seen clusters of cases … they are not in such a good evidence-driven position to make their judgments,” he said, adding that “the risk-benefit [equation] does vary … from one country to another”.

The EMA said it could not identify the cause of the blood-clotting event, which was mostly, but not entirely, in women under 60.

It is advising that healthcare professionals and people getting the vaccine should be made aware of the issue and the symptoms of the clots, which range from shortness of breath and chest pain to persistent headaches and blurred vision.

“It is of great importance that healthcare professionals and people coming for vaccination are aware of these risks and look out for signs or symptoms,” said Cooke.

Like the EMA, the MHRA is a regulator and an adviser on safety and efficacy to governments.

The UK recommendation that under-30s should be offered an alternative vaccine comes from the JCVI. Its head, Prof Wei Shen Lim, said it had only made the recommendation to government “out of the utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns”.

Dr Peter Arlett, the head of the EMA data analytics and methods taskforce, said the agency was examining whether other vaccines posed any risk, citing cases of rare blood clots involving the Johnson & Johnson jab.

“There have been three cases with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine of blood clots associated with low platelets which have some similarities to these cases that we’ve been describing today,” he said.

“However, the numbers are extremely small compared with the 5 million patients that have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine worldwide. This is, however, under close scrutiny, the [committee] is looking at it carefully, and I think it would be fair to say there’s intensive monitoring of this issue across the vaccines.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives.

“Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination.”

 

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Health

NCDC records 1 death, 272 new COVID-19 infections

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By Gistflash News

July 25, 2021

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recorded one death and an additional 272 coronavirus infections in Nigeria as at July 24.

The NCDC released the information on its official website early on Sunday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the latest infections figure shows a decline, compared with 317 cases announced on July 23, an 18-week high in infections.

The public health agency said that COVID-19 related deaths in Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country currently stood at 2,132 since the pandemic hit the country.

The agency said that Nigeria had also tested more than 2.4 million samples for the virus out of the country’s population, estimated at 200 million.

It noted that Lagos State, Nigeria’s epi-centre of the disease and economic hub, again recorded the highest number of new infections with 182 confirmed cases.

Rivers, Nigeria’s oil capital, came a distant second with 34 positive samples and Ondo State coming third with 24 cases.

States that recorded fresh infections include Oyo State (10), Abia (7), Ogun (7), Ekiti State (5), Delta (2) and Plateau (1).

NCDC disclosed that three states, including Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto States recorded zero cases and that as at July 24, Nigeria’s COVID-19 active cases stood at 3,975.

The agency said that eight people were discharged on July 24 after recovering from the disease.

It noted that out of a total of 170,895 positive infections confirmed across the country, 164,788 patients had been discharged.

According to the agency, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre, activated at level 2, continues to coordinate national response activities.

Meanwhile, the NCDC has alerted that COVID-19 infection rate has worsened at entry points with 32 per cent rise in one week.

It disclosed that over 10,000 in-bound travellers from overseas had shunned the compulsory COVID-19 testing and isolation after arriving in Nigeria.

The travellers came into Nigeria through the premier Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

While over 9,000 in-bound Lagos travellers shunned testing, no fewer than 1,000 in-bound Abuja passengers also shunned testing, according to the NCDC.

NAN

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Quarantine: 18% in-bound passengers not traceable — Sanwo-Olu

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By Gistflash News

July 12, 2021

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says 18 per cent of passengers that arrived Lagos through Murtala Mohammed Airport cannot be traced for COVID-19 quarantine.

Sanwo-Olu made this known on Sunday in the update of the coronavirus pandemic situation in Lagos State.

He said that between May 8, 2021 and July 7, 2021, a total of 50,322 passengers of interest arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed Airport.

”Of the 50,322 passengers, 18 per cent could not be reached by EKOTELEMED because of the provision of either wrong numbers or wrong Nigerian contact details to be reached on,” the Chief Incident Commander said.

He said that it was the responsibility of passengers to ensure they provided the right details for them to be reached for proper monitoring.

”Going forward, passengers that do not provide the right details, including a phone number they can be reached for monitoring and an address for isolation, will face serious sanctions, including fines and imprisonment according to our Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021.

”As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation.

”So far, we have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 per cent have absconded,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He said that sanctions were being recommended and had already been meted out to defaulters.

The governor said that the sanctions for foreigners were revocation of their Permanent Residency and deportation; while for Nigerians were prosecution to the full extent of the Lagos State COVID-19 Law.

He also said that greater vigilance was required at this time in the churches and mosques and other places of religious worship.

Sanwo-Olu said that the state was pleased that religious houses were now open for worship, after the lengthy closures of 2020, however, worshippers must not be carried away by the illusion that all was now back to normal.

”This is especially critical, as Sallah approaches, in a little over a week from now.

”The festivities will no doubt bring people together in large numbers and create conditions that can sadly cause the spread of the coronavirus. We must not allow this to happen.

”For this reason, we are mandating full compliance with all protective protocols.

”There must be compulsory use of masks in all public places, social distancing, temperature checks, provisions for hand-washing and sanitisers, and a maximum of 50 per cent occupancy in enclosed spaces,” he said.

NAN

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Coronavirus

NCDC confirms deadly Delta variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria

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By Gistflash News

July 9, 2021

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has  detected a confirmed case of the SARS-CoV-2, known as the Delta variant in Nigeria.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Abuja.

NAN reports that the deadly Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern.

The WHO said that the Delta variant was ‘dangerous’ and continued to evolve and mutate, and thus requiring constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response.

Ihekweazu said the variant was detected in a traveller to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.

“As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has been working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) and other laboratories within the national network to carry out genomic sequencing.

”This is to enable the detection of variants of concern and initiate response activities.

“All data on variants from Nigeria have been published on GISAID, a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data.

”Given the global risk of spread of the Delta variant, positive samples from international travelers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly.

“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19  has initiated several measures  to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

”This includes the introduction of travel restrictions for countries where there is a surge in cases associated with widespread prevalence of variants of concern.

“The national travel protocol which includes compulsory seven-day self-isolation and repeat test on the seventh day after arrival, are in place to reduce the risk of spread of the virus.

”It is very important that this is strictly adhered to, to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria,” he explained.

Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, the NCDC boss urged all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place.

“Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing and proper use of face masks prevent infections and save lives.

”The COVID- 19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease,” he advised.

Additionally, he urged states to ensure sample collection and testing for COVID-19 was accessible to Nigerians.

“Public settings such as schools with accommodation facilities, workplaces and camps should utilise the approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population,” he added.

He said although Nigeria had seen a low number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the last eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful.

“Please protect yourselves and the people you love by adhering to the known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated if you are eligible and getting tested if you have symptoms.”

The NCDC boss said the recommended control measures to limit the spread of the new variant was continued testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions.

NAN

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