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Health & Fitness AstraZeneca vaccine: ‘Doctors had inkling it was the Covid jab’, say family of blood clot victim, 51

16:15  15 april  2021
16:15  15 april  2021 Source:   msn.com

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A link between the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine and rare forms of blood clots is looking increasingly likely, but authorities have stressed that the risks are extremely low and for the vast majority of people, the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any potential harm.

a group of people posing for the camera: Michelle Barlow's mother and grandmother died of blood clots and she was taking HRT © Provided by The i Michelle Barlow's mother and grandmother died of blood clots and she was taking HRT

But questions have emerged about whether people who have known risk factors for thrombosis should be offered the AZ jab or not. These include those who had a blood clot previously, have a family history, are pregnant, on hormone therapy or birth control pills, are obese, smoke, and have certain health conditions, such as cancer or heart failure.

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Mother-of-two Michelle Barlow who was described as being a ‘fit and healthy’ 51-year-old before she died 16 days after having the AZ vaccine – had a family history.

Last week, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – which has acknowledged a possible link between the clots. and the jab said GPs should give “careful consideration” to people who are “at higher risk of specific types of blood clots because of their medical condition” but more specifics weren’t given. Mothers-to-be were advised to discuss risks with their doctor.

Then over the weekend a panel of haematology experts expressed their “concerns” about this, saying there is “no evidence” these individuals are more at risk of developing the immune complication reported after the AZ vaccine.

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MHRA have told i it has not identified any specific risk factors linked to the vaccine-induced blood clot events – therefore we understand the advice is precautionary while it examines the data further and reconsiders its guidance. People who have had a rare immune-mediated disorder, called HIT type 2, are advised not to have the jab.

a man standing in a room: Ian Barlow, centre, with his sons Matthew, left, and Mark, right (Photo: Steve Morgan) © Provided by The i Ian Barlow, centre, with his sons Matthew, left, and Mark, right (Photo: Steve Morgan)

Like so many others, Michelle Barlow was delighted to get her coronavirus vaccine. The mother-of-two and her husband, Ian, booked their appointments as soon as they got the call, knowing it was the right thing to do.

But their relief at finally being given the vaccination turned to concern when Michelle fell ill in the days after having the AstraZeneca (AZ) jab on 7 March.

Ms Barlow, 51, had flu-like symptoms in the first couple of days after her jab, which is a common side effect. But a week later she developed severe headaches, diarrhoea and sickness for which her GP gave her medication.

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She got “progressively worse and worse” and – as reports started to emerge from around Europe of extremely rare side effects from the jab – she was admitted to hospital on 20 March.

The civil servant, who had no underlying health conditions, was found to have low blood platelets and two clots on her lungs.

She was pronounced dead three days after being admitted to hospital, and is one of at least 19 people who have died from unusual clots soon after having the vaccine.

Now her grieving husband has told i her story to raise awareness of the complex factors behind vaccine side effects, and to call for more information to be made available.

He told i: “We don’t want to tell people not to have the vaccine.

“We had a close friend who died of Covid, and we didn’t want to put the boys through that so we were keen to get vaccinated.

“We just want people to be aware of the risks so they can make their own choices.”

Recalling the moment his wife was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, also known as Wigan Infirmary, Mr Barlow, 56, from Wigan, said: “It was a shock because Michelle was fit and healthy.

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“She was active and always walking the dog. She told me that the doctors had said they had an inkling it could well be the vaccine.”

Ms Barlow (inset) was given blood thinners, which can help stop clots from getting bigger and keep new ones from forming, but they failed to work. Ian said: “I went in and Michelle said, ‘They can’t do any more for me.’ The doctors said the clots were inoperable.”

a close up of a woman who is smiling at the camera: Michelle Barlow had the AZ vaccine on 7 March (Photo: Ian Barlow) © Provided by The i Michelle Barlow had the AZ vaccine on 7 March (Photo: Ian Barlow)

Her family – including sons Matt, 27, Mark, 26 and father Michael – watched on distraught as her health worsened. “She crashed and they were working on her for an hour,” said Ian.

“They got her back for just enough time for us to say goodbye.  And then she just went, gone, just three days after she was admitted.”

Mr Barlow, a retired factory worker, and his sons have been left struggling with their sudden grief and their heads have swirled with many questions and “what ifs”.

One of the factors that is now being considered as a potential problem for people taking the AstraZeneca vaccine is whether a predisposition to clotting could be exacerbated by the jab. Mrs Barlow had lost both her mother and her grandmother to a blood clot that had travelled to the brain.

Her husband paid tribute to his wife as a “courageous woman”. He said: “Michelle was so calm throughout this.

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“She was selfless, she thought of everybody but herself.”

Despite his deep personal tragedy, Ian is adamant that people should still be getting their jabs – but he called on the medical authorities to do more research into the potential effect on people with a family history of clots.

“I think she wouldn’t have had the AstraZeneca jab if she’d been aware of the risks of blood clots, given her family history,” he said.

Wigan Infirmary, which is carrying out an investigation into Michelle’s death, said it was too early in its review to comment.

a close up of text on a white background: Michelle Barlow’s vaccination booking card (Photo: Ian Barlow) © Provided by The i Michelle Barlow’s vaccination booking card (Photo: Ian Barlow)

According to her death certificate, the cause of her death was pulmonary embolisms and blood clots in her abdomen and portal vein. A coroner ruled she died from natural causes, which her family have asked to be reconsidered after more information about the vaccine’s risks have emerged.

Last week, the family of a solicitor who died after getting the jab also encouraged people to continue getting the AZ shot. Neil Astles, 59, from Warrington, was given his first dose on 17 March but died in hospital on Easter Sunday.

His sister, Dr Alison Astles, told The Telegraph: “If we all have the vaccine, a few of us might have a blood clot but the evidence is that fewer people will die.

“We trust the process, we trust the regulator, and despite what has happened to our family, we don’t want people to be scared off.”

a person holding a dog posing for the camera: Ian wants people to have more information about the AZ vaccine risks (Photo: Steve Morgan) © Provided by The i Ian wants people to have more information about the AZ vaccine risks (Photo: Steve Morgan)

The MHRA‘s advice from last week:

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  • Administration of Covid-19 Vaccine AZ in people of any age who are at higher risk of blood clots because of their medical condition should be considered only if benefits from the protection from COVID-19 infection outweighs potential risks.
  • Anyone who experienced cerebral or other major blood clots occurring with low levels of platelets after their first vaccine dose of Covid-19 Vaccine AZ should not have their second dose. Anyone who did not have these side effects should come forward for their second dose when invited.
  • Pregnancy predisposes to thrombosis, therefore women should discuss with their healthcare professional whether the benefits of having the vaccine outweigh the risks for them.
  • Anyone who develops the following symptoms after vaccination should seek prompt medical advice: shortness of breath, chest or persistent abdominal pain, leg swelling, blurred vision, confusion of seizures, unexplained pin prick rash, or bruising beyond the injection site.

Debate over relevance of risks

MHRA said that GPs should only give the AZ vaccine to patients with medical conditions which put them at higher risk of developing blood clots if the benefits outweigh the risks.

However, the Expert Haematology Panel said it wanted to raise its concern with the MHRA regarding its wording. In a letter endorsed by Thrombosis UK, it stressed that there is “no evidence” that individuals with a prior history of thrombosis or known risk factors for thrombosis are more at risk of developing the complication reported after the AZ vaccine.

Furthermore, they warned that for the majority of individuals, the risk of recurrent thrombosis due to Covid-19 infection “is far greater than the risk of this syndrome”.

One expert has said the usual risk factors may not be important because the vaccine-induced clots come about through a different mechanism than the usual types of bleeding or clotting problems.

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Now MHRA has said while specific risk factors have not identified, it is reassessing its guidance. A spokesperson said: “On the available data, we have not identified any specific risk factors that increase the risk and we do not believe that these unusual clots with low platelets are more common in people who have had other types of blood clots before, in people with a family history of blood clots or in pregnancy.

“The product information is being updated and will include advice not to use the vaccine in people who have had a rare disorder called Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia type 2 which has some similar clinical features. We are continuing to monitor the reported cases to see if any risk factors can be identified and will be providing updates when necessary.”

But nevertheless, the organisation is looking at the information currently collected through its yellow card scheme, and considering extra data it could harvest to develop a fuller picture.

The spokesperson added: “There are a lot of questions asked when people submit a yellow card report. Whether they smoke or whether they take the combined pill is something that the team is looking into.”

One in a million risk of dying from AZ jab

The European Medical Agency (EMA) last week acknowledged a possible link between AZ’s vaccine and blood clots, before recommending the rollout continue and stressing that that the “benefit of the jab outweighs the risks”.

Meanwhile in the UK, under-30s are to be offered an alternative Covid vaccine to the AZ jab due to the emerging data.

Up to March 31, across the UK the MHRA had received 79 reports of blood clots accompanied by low blood platelet count, all in people who had their first doses, out of around 20million AZ injections given in total.

Of these 79, 19 people have died, although the cause of death has not been established in every case. Of the 19 who died, only three were under the age of 30.

Cases have occurred across all age groups, and the risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19 decreases with age, therefore the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has decided that for healthy people under 30 the balance of risks and benefits means they should be offered a different jab, if one is available.

Overall, the figures suggest a risk of about four in one million of developing a blood clot, and one in a million of dying. In contrast, the risk of dying from coronavirus aged 40 to 49 is one in 1,000.

The EMA received reports of 169 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) – when a blood clot forms in the brain – in people who received AZ’s injection as of 4 April. It’s been noted clots can also occur in the abdomen (splanchnic vein thrombosis) and in arteries.

The 169 cases should be compared to the 34 million doses of the shot administered in the European Economic Area, said Sabine Straus, the chair of the EMA’s safety committee. In comparison, four women out of 10,000 would get a blood clot from taking oral contraception.

Early reports on the clots from Europe suggested that the vast majority of cases were observed in women under 65, but health authorities have since said there has been no indication that there is a gender more at risk.

The chief medical officer for a province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Dr Janice Fitzgerald, said she did not believe that people who have had blood clots previously, those with a family history of thrombosis, people with low platelets or pregnant women were more at risk of vaccine-induced clotting reactions because these do “not develop through the same process as usual types of bleeding or clotting problems”.

What do we know about the rare blood clots?

Most cases have been seen between four days and a few weeks of people having the jab.

Platelets form clots to stop bleeding, so when you don’t have enough platelets in your blood, your body can’t form clots. This can lead to excessive bleeding.

The blood-clotting events with the AZ vaccine is caused by “an over-activation of the immune system” according to a group of Victoria University scientists writing for The Conversation.

Scientists have termed the condition ‘vaccine induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia’ (VIPIT). It’s a form of something called thrombocytopenia, which can be have a genetic component, but can also arise from more than 300 common medicines, including penicillin and certain pain killers.

The experts wrote: “The AstraZeneca vaccine prompts cells to make a specific part of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), called the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to cells when infecting us.

“The vaccine stimulates our immune system to generate antibodies against the spike protein, which then primes the body to mount an immune response against SARS-CoV-2, if it encounters the virus in the future.

“But in some people, the AstraZeneca vaccine seems to produce antibodies that react with platelets, making them stick together, leading the blood to clot. This in turn reduces circulating platelet numbers, and hence the thrombocytopenia.”

Do you have a real life story? Email claudia.tanner@inews.co.uk. Li

Regulators mull restricting Astrazeneca jab for under-40s over blood clot fears .
UK scientists are reportedly considering whether under-40s should be advised to have an alternative vaccine to the Astrazeneca jab due The post Regulators mull restricting Astrazeneca jab for under-40s over blood clot fears appeared first on CityAM.

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