According to a big study sponsored by the University of Oxford, a coronavirus infection had a substantially higher chance of causing a blood clot than the first dosage of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
More than 29 million people were vaccinated with the first doses of either vaccine between December 2020 and April 2021, according to the study.
The findings showed that while both vaccines raised the risk of blood clots, the risk was substantially higher in people who tested positive for COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
“People should be aware of these increased risks following COVID-19 vaccination and seek medical attention immediately if they develop symptoms,” said Julia Hippisley-Cox, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and General Practice at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study. “However, people should also be aware that the risks are significantly higher and over longer periods of time if they become infected with SARS-CoV-2,” she added.
The study looked at thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) and thromboembolic events (blood clots) after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, which was some of the same side effects that led to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – known in India as Covishield – being limited in a number of countries.
The researchers report their findings in the ‘British Medical Journal’ (BMJ) from over 29 million persons who received first doses of either the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or the BNT162b2 mRNA or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
They conclude that there are higher risks of some hematological and vascular adverse events leading to hospitalization or death with both of these vaccines for brief time intervals following the initial dose.
The authors go on to say that the risk of these side effects is much higher and lasts much longer after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus than after either vaccine.
“Many other studies, while valuable, have been constrained by small sample sizes and inherent biases, thus this research is critical. Electronic health records, which contain complete records of immunizations, infections, outcomes, and confounders, have provided us with a wealth of information with which to evaluate these vaccines and compare them to the risks of COVID-19 infection “Prof Hippisley-Cox states.
All of the coronavirus vaccines now in use have undergone rigorous testing in randomized clinical trials, which are unlikely to discover extremely rare side effects.
When uncommon events are discovered, regulators do a risk-benefit analysis of the treatment, weighing the chances of adverse events if the vaccine is administered against the benefits of avoiding the disease – in this case, COVID-19.
Aziz Sheikh, a co-author of the paper and Professor of Primary Care Research & Development and Director of the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This massive study, which used data from over 29 million vaccinated people, found that the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination carries a very low risk of clotting and other blood disorders.
“Despite the seriousness of these results, the probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection is substantially higher.
“Overall, this analysis highlights the importance of getting vaccinated to lower the risk of these clotting and bleeding outcomes in individuals, as well as the significant public health benefit that COVID-19 immunizations provide,” Sheikh added.
The authors of the paper compared rates of adverse events after vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech at the University of Oxford, University of Leicester, Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Nottingham.
They used data gathered from across England between December 1, 2020, and April 24, 2021, to assess the short-term risks (within 28 days) of hospital admission with thrombocytopenia, venous thromboembolism (VTE), and artery thromboembolism (ATE).
CVST (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis), ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and other rare arterial thrombotic events were among the other outcomes investigated.
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