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Spanish health authorities investigating death of person who had received AstraZeneca vaccine

Officials currently do not know if the death and inoculation are related

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17 March 2021 10:48 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

The Spanish Medicines Agency is investigating the death of a person who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca and who subsequently suffered an ischemic stroke, according to the ministry of health. 

The authorities are also looking into the case of another person with abdominal venous thrombosis after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. 

Currently, health officials do not know if the death and adverse effects are related to the administration of the vaccine or not. 

Health officials say that the investigation "may end up finding an alternative cause" to the adverse effects other than the administration of the vaccine. If it is attributable to the AstraZeneca inoculation, measures can be put in place to try to minimize the risk, for example, to identify factors that predispose to the occurrence of this type of blood clotting and to limit the use of the vaccine when this risk factor is known.

These two cases of possible adverse reaction to the vaccine were recorded on Tuesday and add to a third that was reported on Monday, also related to blood clotting. 

According to some media, the person who lost their life is a teacher from Marbella. 

These are three cases of 975,661 people vaccinated in all of Spain with the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The health department also pointed out that these are three cases "which by themselves, although infrequent, can occur in the general population."

  • "What we know so far is that the risk-reward ratio of the AstraZeneca vaccine is still in favour of the reward"

    Alba Vergés · Catalan health minister

The Ministry has pointed out, however, that all three cases "have the particularity" that the clots have come with a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood. “This fact may suggest an abnormal activation of the coagulation system that would be associated with this clot formation in locations that are not the most common,” they add.

'Benefits outweigh risks'

Catalan health officials are holding back on 127,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab pending a report from the European Medicines Agency regarding blood clots.

On Wednesday, Catalan health minister Alba Vergés avoided commenting on the news. "Regulatory agencies are the ones that have all the information regarding each specific case."

Yet, she called on the public to remain calm and added that the Catalan pharmacovigilance system in place works correctly and investigates every reported side effect. According to her, there is not always a causal relation between vaccines and a specific symptom.

"What we know so far is that the risk-reward ratio of the AstraZeneca vaccine is still in favour of the reward," she said.

"We have to wait for the European Medicines Agency's position to determine whether we can resume AstraZeneca vaccinations."

Health professionals and those already vaccinated have been sent a list of frequently asked questions regarding the decision to pause vaccinations. Shortly after Spain temporarily suspended AstraZeneca inoculations, the Catalan health system 061 hotline received around 1,000 calls, many of them from people whose appointments had been canceled.

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  • Close up shot of a health professional preparing a Covid-19 vaccine (by Roger Segura)

  • Close up shot of a health professional preparing a Covid-19 vaccine (by Roger Segura)

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