Wednesday, June 19, 2024

AstraZeneca admits its COVID vaccine, Covishield, can cause rare side effect – Times of India

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A big update has emerged in connection with COVID vaccine and its rare side effects, which are being questioned by several health experts. British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca has admitted in court papers that its COVID vaccine, Covishield, can cause rare side effect, The Telegraph reported.
Covishield was developed by AstraZeneca and was produced by the Serum Institute of India.In India, it was one of the widely administered COVID vaccine.

What did AstraZeneca say about the vaccine side effect?

Currently, AstraZeneca is facing a class action lawsuit in the UK due to claims that its vaccine caused deaths. 51 cases have been filed against AstraZeneca.

In one of the court papers, AstraZeneca has admitted that Covishield can “in very rare cases, cause TTS”. TTS stands for Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.

What is TTS?

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a rare but serious condition characterized by blood clot formation (thrombosis) coupled with low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia).
TTS typically manifests with symptoms such as severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg swelling, shortness of breath, and neurological deficits. Diagnosis involves blood tests to assess platelet levels and imaging studies to detect blood clots.

Treatment for TTS involves a multidisciplinary approach, including hospitalization, anticoagulation therapy to prevent further clotting, and supportive care. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasma exchange may also be utilized to stabilize platelet levels and manage immune-mediated reactions.
Healthcare providers closely monitor patients with TTS due to the potential for severe complications, including organ damage and death. Prompt recognition and management are essential for improving outcomes in individuals affected by this rare but critical syndrome.
“TTS is thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, which is basically clot in blood vessels of the brain or elsewhere, along with a low platelet count. It is known to occur in very rare instances following certain types of vaccines and also from other causes. According to the WHO, adenovirus vector vaccines in particular have been rarely associated with this condition,” Medical expert Dr Rajeev Jayadevan told ANI. “Although COVID vaccines have prevented numerous deaths, reports of these extremely rare but potentially serious immune mediated events have also been published in reputed journals,” Dr Jayadevan added.

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In 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in its report that TTS emerged as a new adverse event following immunisation in individuals vaccinated with COVID-19 non-replicant adenovirus vector-based vaccines. This refers to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 ChAdOx-1 vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Janssen COVID-19 Ad26.COV2-S vaccines.
“TTS is a serious and life-threatening adverse event. WHO has issued this interim emergency guidance to increase awareness about TTS in the context of COVID-19 vaccination and help healthcare providers in the assessment and management of potential TTS cases,” the 2023 statement by WHO read.

AstraZeneca reaffirms vaccine safety amidst rare side effect concerns

“Our sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones or reported health problems. Patient safety is our highest priority, and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said amidst side effect concerns. This comes in the wake of a recent admission by AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company, that its Covid vaccine Covishield and Vaxzevria “can, in very rare cases, cause Thrombosis Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).”

Benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine far outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects, pharma giant AstraZeneca told news agency IANS. “From the body of evidence in clinical trials and real-world data, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has continuously been shown to have an acceptable safety profile,” the statement said. “Regulators around the world consistently state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects,” it added. The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, sold as Covishield in India and Vaxzevria in Europe is a viral vector vaccine developed using the modified chimpanzee adenovirus ChAdOx1.
COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, emerged in late 2019, triggering a global pandemic. It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets, leading to a range of symptoms from mild respiratory illness to severe pneumonia and death, particularly in vulnerable populations. Governments worldwide implemented various measures such as lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccination campaigns to curb transmission. Despite vaccination efforts, new variants continue to pose challenges. The pandemic has strained healthcare systems, disrupted economies, and reshaped daily life, emphasizing the importance of public health measures, vaccination, and global cooperation in combating infectious diseases.

Reaction to AstraZeneca’s statement in India

Covishield was widely administered in India. After the AstraZeneca statement came to the fore, concerns have spiked especially among those who took the vaccine. Political parties have questioned the government about the health concerns related to the vaccine. “The opposition Congress on Wednesday alleged that the BJP government at the centre did not follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and demanded that the relatives of those who died due to heart attack or similar reasons after taking the Covishield vaccine against coronavirus should be paid compensation. Doctors associated with the Gujarat BJP, however, said a study by an expert panel in the state had established that there was no direct link between COVID-19 vaccines and blood clotting which can lead to heart attacks,” PTI reported. Parents of a woman who allegedly died after Covishield vaccine have decided to file a case against Serum Institute of India.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav Friday said the lives of the people of the country have been put in danger by the Covid vaccine and demanded that the heart-related tests like ECG should be made free for those who have taken the vaccine.

AstraZeneca to withdraw its vaccines?

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca is withdrawing its Covid vaccine worldwide, Reuters reported quoting The Telegraph. The application to withdraw the Vaxzervria vaccine was made on March 5 and came into effect on Tuesday, the report added. On Tuesday, the company also withdrew marketing authorisation for the vaccine within Europe, reported Reuters.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)

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