Under-40s could also get alternative to Astrazeneca vaccine despite fears it could delay UK’s drive
Under-40s could also get an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine despite fears that it could delay Britain’s inoculation drive by a month.
On April 7, the Government’s vaccine advisory group ruled that people aged between 18 and 29 should be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna jab instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine while experts continue to investigate its link to rare blood clots.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found that, by the end of March, 79 of 20million Britons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab had suffered deadly blood clots in the brain or arteries, a rate of about one in 250,000.
New data from the drugs watchdog has indicated the risk of forming a serious blood clot has increased to one in 126,000 over a fortnight.
It is understood that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now contemplating further altering its policy ahead of the rollout to those aged 30 to 39, reports The Daily Telegraph.
But the Government’s scientific advisers are divided over whether to offer alternatives to under-40s, with analysts from Airfinity earlier predicting the change in guidance for those aged below 30 will hamper the nation’s vaccine drive.
Amanda Krawczyk from Penrith is the first patients to arrive at the Penrith Auction Mart Vaccination Centre to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 25
It is understood that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now contemplating further altering its policy ahead of the rollout to those aged 30 to 39 (file photo)
Some scientists believe the alternative should be offered to those aged 30 to 39, while others say there is not yet enough evidence to change the guidance further and potentially lower confidence in the vaccine.
Maarten Postma, a member of the JCVI and professor in pharmacoeconomics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, told the Financial Times: ‘I would for sure support giving people who are 30 to 40 another vaccine.
‘There are alternatives so we can be careful.’
Slides presented at a press conference announcing the change in policy earlier this month showed that younger people are more prone to blood clots after vaccination than older groups.
Nineteen of the cases who suffered serious blood clots died and three were under the age of 30.
The MHRA said healthy people aged 19 to 29 will be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna jabs instead when the programme moves to younger groups in the coming months.
More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, figures show. NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day
People queue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at the newly opened Covid-19 vaccination centre in the SSE Arena, Belfast, on March 29
Patients wait in the post vaccination observation area after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine at Penrith Auction Mart Vaccination Centre on March 25 in Penrith
Anyone who has already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, regardless of their age, is being advised to go for their second appointment as planned.
But former Tory leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith told Politico’s Emilio Casalicchio the move could be a ‘real blow’ to uptake of the vaccine.
He added: ‘I’m concerned that this statement by the MHRA will lead to a lack of confidence in the jab.’
AstraZeneca’s jab is only being paused for under-30s in Britain because coronavirus levels are so low, said Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam earlier this month.
Anyone who has already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, regardless of their age, is being advised to go for their second appointment as planned
If Covid was still more prevalent, as it is in Europe, he suggested that the vaccine would still be recommended for all ages, including young people.
The MHRA insisted there was still no concrete proof that the British-made vaccine is causing the clots, but admitted the link was getting firmer.
The review prompted the Government’s vaccine advisory group, the JCVI, to recommend that people aged 18 to 29 be given an alternative jab.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, coronavirus chairman for the vaccines committee: ‘The Covid-19 vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and the benefit for the majority of the population is clear – if you are offered a vaccine, you should take it.’