It currently remains unclear if the one fatal case of blood clotting with a low platelet count following vaccination in Belgium was linked to the vaccine, according to the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP).
This one reported case was fatal, but that could also be due to an underlying condition, the FAMHP stated on its website. "This report was investigated in detail," the FAMHP said, adding that "there are underlying conditions that could explain the death."
While it was communicated that the case in question concerned splanchnic venous thrombosis (blood clots in the abdomen) combined with a low platelet count, no other details were made public.
This report comes alongside a decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to include blood clots in combination with a low platelet count as a very rare side effect of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
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However, the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 continue to outweigh the risks of side effects, especially when the associated risk of hospitalisation and death are taken into account, the EMA stressed.
As a result of the decision, Belgium decided to only administer AstraZeneca's vaccines to people over 55 years old over the coming four weeks, while waiting for a better analysis on the jab for different age groups, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced.
A possible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low platelet count is an immune reaction, leading to a condition similar to that sometimes seen in patients treated with heparin (heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, HIT), according to the FAMHP.
The EMA is now asking for new studies as well as changes to ongoing studies to provide more information and will take further measures if necessary.
The Brussels Times