The UK has announced a “change of course” with the vaccination programme in relation to the AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN)/Oxford University COVID-19 jab.
Professor Lim Wei Shen, chair of COVID-19 immunisation at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said that those who are aged 18 to 29, and don’t have any underlying issues making them vulnerable to the virus, should be offered another vaccine.
He added that those who have already received the first dose of the AstraZeneca jab should go for the second dose as scheduled.
The alternatives currently approved in the UK are inoculations developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
Fascinating slide used by Prof Van Tam at briefing on AZ vaccine – listing benefits and potential harms for each age group – explains decision on offering under 30s a different jab pic.twitter.com/JrZ0o4VMoW
— Hugh Pym (@BBCHughPym) April 7, 2021
Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer at Department of Health and Social Care, said in a press briefing on Wednesday that this decision should not affect the national rollout.
“The effect on the timing of our overall program should be zero, or negligible,” he said.
The reassurance that pharmacovigilance in both the United Kingdom & the EU works well. This is important in maintaining confidence in the largest vaccination program in history. As @BorisJohnson has said; We will follow the advice & are confident in meeting our programme targets.
— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) April 7, 2021
June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the blood clot cases have been reported in an “extremely small” number of people.
Up to March 31, thrombosis was reported in 79 people, with 19 deaths including three people aged under 30.
Over 20mln doses of the jab have been administered in the UK.
Raine stressed the benefits continue to outweigh the risks in most people.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, said that people who have experienced cerebral or other major blood clots with low levels of platelets with the first dose should not receive the second one.
Pregnant women should continue discussing with their doctor on which vaccine to receive while those with history of blood disorders should take the AstraZeneca vaccine only if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Earlier on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the bloc should continue using the jab without limitations to age groups.
Shares in the FTSE 100 pharma company dipped 1% to 7,115p before close.