Canadian panel recommends AstraZeneca pause for under 55

By Chris Brown	
		'Precautionary measure'		Alberta pausing use of Astra Zeneca vaccine in those under 55

Canadian experts on Monday recommended halting the use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 shots for people aged under 55, after a small but rising number of patients overseas suffered blood clots. Manitoba has taken the same strategy as Quebec, while PEI announced Monday morning that they would halt use of the vaccine for people aged 18 to 29.

"It's important to note that no such blood clot abnormalities or VIPID have been reported in Canada, " she said.

Only those 60 and above have received AstraZeneca in Ontario, Canada's most populous province.

Health Canada said it has not received any reports of blood clots in Canada, and the department's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said she still believes the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks.

This adverse event, called vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), has occurred primarily in women under 55, the vice-chair of NACI, Dr. Shelley Deeks, said.

Christine Elliott got the AstraZeneca vaccine on camera at a Toronto pharmacy around 9:15 a.m. Monday.

She says there is no evidence of any similar issues linked to the other vaccines that are being used in Alberta and there have been no reported cases of these blood clots following immunization in Alberta or anywhere in Canada.

Ontario announced Monday afternoon it will suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine among younger patients below the age of 55.

Anyone who begins to see these symptoms, starting four days or more after vaccination, should seek immediate medical attention.

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However, Fauci warned, "if we open up completely now, that is premature given the level of infection". COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased in the previous week, Walensky said.

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These will include a requirement that the manufacturers conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context.

Ford adds that he "would rather wait" if it means a few months for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson than "roll the dice" with AstraZeneca.

"The exact mechanism by which the AstraZeneca vaccine triggers the event is still under investigation", Deeks said.

Separately, Canada has ordered 20 million AstraZeneca shots plus another two million doses of the same formula made by the Serum Institute of India.

This follows reports from vaccine recipients in Europe who have experienced very rare instances of blood clots, particularly among younger women.

The province launched its "Stick it to COVID" advertising campaign to encourage people to get a vaccine when it's their turn.

"A single mRNA batch of the current scale is sufficient to produce around eight million vaccine doses", explains BioNTech. "Currently, 400 BioNTech employees work in Marburg, 200 of them in 24/7 shifts in order to maximize the production's output".

NACI said that despite the suspension, Canada is still expected to receive enough vaccine doses to be able to fully vaccinate the population by autumn of this year.

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