Health Canada says AstraZeneca vaccine is still safe following review

The AstraZeneca vaccine will remain on the Canadian market despite rare cases of blood clotting, Health Canada said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, provincial health authorities in Quebec said a woman had developed a blood clot shortly after receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine dose, a first in Canada.

“Health Canada still considers the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine to outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19,” Health Canada chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma said during a technical briefing.

“We didn’t find any specific risk factors, such as age or sex, so we are therefore not requiring that the vaccine label be updated to restrict the use of the vaccine at this time,” said Sharma.

In the very rare event that someone experiences unusual blood clots with low platelets, there are treatments available,” said Sharma.

At the end of March, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that AstraZeneca not be used on patients under 55.

However, Sharma said Health Canada still believes that the shot can be safely deployed in all adults regardless of age.

The clotting syndrome is known as VIPIT, short for vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia.

Sharma said the chance of developing these clots is roughly 1 in 250,000, based on data from the U.K.

Meanwhile, Denmark has become the first country to outright stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Denmark first to stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot

The announcement Wednesday came after Danish Health officials said they found “real and serious side effects” during their investigations.

The U.S. is pausing the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine “out of an abundance of caution,” as they investigate reports of dangerous blood clots.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed they are investigating unusual blood clots in six women.

Sharma said Canada is continuing to look at the J&J evidence as well.

More than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Canada.