A government committee in the UK advising on coronavirus vaccinations has said people under the age of 30 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, after 19 people died in the country from rare blood clots after receiving the jab. Altogether, 79 such cases have been reported in the country.
"Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old who do not have an underlying health condition... should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where such an alternative vaccine is available," Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said at a press conference.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute under the name of "Covishield". It is one of the two vaccines approved by India's drug regulator in January this year.
The Oxford University, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with the pharma major, has said they are looking into the connection between the vaccine and the fatal condition, which was earlier reported in other European nations.
Initially UK had dissociated the vaccine from the blood clot disorder, but changed its stance as increasing cases were reported. The committee's advice came hours after the European Union's drug regulator said it had found a "possible link" between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the clotting disorder.
But the agency did not recommend any new restrictions, saying the benefits of the shot still outweigh risks.
"By the 31st of March over 20 million doses having been given, we have had 79 cases reported. Of the 79 cases, 19 people have sadly died," June Raine, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
In March, as authorities in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria and the Netherlands suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the centre said India will continue to use Covishield.
At a briefing by the Health Ministry, Dr VK Paul, chairman of the National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration, said: "There were concerns of blood clotting in other nations. We have checked and our own scientific community has not found any issue. We will continue to use Covishield for vaccination in India."