British officials confirm 7 deaths from rare blood clots after AstraZeneca shots, but say benefits ‘continue to outweigh any risks’

The AstraZeneca logo is seen with a hand holding a syringe and needle in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland, on March 1. Britain is grappling with some instances of blood clots in patients who have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Jaap Arriens/Sipa USA/TNS)
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Muri Assuncao New York Daily News (TNS)

British regulators have confirmed that seven people have died from unusual blood clots after taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — but they are urging the public to continue taking the shots.

On Friday, U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency released a statement saying that it had received 30 reports of cases of rare blood clots out of a total of 18.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered up to March 24.

According to the BBC, the agency confirmed the fatalities in an email, writing that “sadly seven have died.”

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However, citing a “rigorous review” into reports of rare blood clots, the agency has concluded that “the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so.”

The risk of having this specific type of blood clot is “very small,” the agency said.

On Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency’s safety committee said in a statement that a link between the vaccine and blood clots “is not proven but possible.”

Earlier last month more than a dozen European countries temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine after cases of rare blood clots were reported, leading scientists scrambling to find any relationship between the AstraZeneca shot and the disease.

Many countries have since resumed vaccination, after the agency said that the benefits outweighed its risks.

According to The Associated Press, some countries including Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands have restricted its use to older people.

According to data released by the British agency, 22 cases were related to a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, which prevents blood from draining out of the brain, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

The unusual nature of the blood clots reported has raised some concerns among experts.

“This raises the possibility that the vaccine could be a causal factor in these rare and unusual cases of CVST, though we don’t know this yet, so more research is urgently needed,” Professor David Werring, from the University College of London’s Institute of Neurology, told the BBC.

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