Offer under-30s alternative to AstraZeneca jab: UK advisors

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LONDON

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization (JCVI) on Wednesday advised health services to offer adults under the age of 30 an alternative COVID-19 vaccine in preference to the Oxford/AstraZeneca.

The recommendation by the committee during a live news conference follows a similar announcement by the European Medicines Authority (EMA) that found a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the highly rare occurrences of blood clots.

Also present at the conference was Dr. June Raine, chief of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), who said there was a “strong possibility” that the vaccine was responsible for the blood clots.

Raine also reminded people that no effective vaccine is without side effects.

The MHRA chief also highlighted that the benefits of the jab, as of yet, continue to outweigh the risks “for the vast majority of people.”

According to Raine, the risk posed by the vaccine is about 4 people in a million and that 19 people who died from blood clotting were under the age of 30.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said there will be a “course correction” to the UK’s vaccination program following the announcements.

Van-Tam said there will be a slight delay for people still waiting to get vaccinated, but overall the impact on the vaccination timetable would be “negligible.”

On Wednesday, 2,763 people had a confirmed positive test of the virus, bringing this week’s total to 21,505. This represents a 36.6% decrease in comparison to the last seven days.

Some 45 deaths were reported within 28 days of testing positive for the virus on Wednesday. Between April 1 and 7, there were 214 deaths within 28 days of testing. This shows a 35.5% decrease in comparison to the previous week.

Over 31.7 million people had been administered their first dose of the vaccine by the end of April 6, with over 5 million people now having received the second. Vaccines are currently administered in two doses, 21 days apart.

The latest R range for the UK stands at 0.8-1.0, with the current growth rate at -4% to 0% per day. The R number is a mechanism used to rate the virus’s ability to spread, with R being the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

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