A Norwegian group of experts claims to have found the mechanism behind the symptoms that triggered the alarm over the vaccine manufacturer Astra Zeneca's coronavirus shot.
According to the experts, the vaccine triggers a strong immune reaction that leads to a rare combination of blood clots and low platelet (thrombocytes) counts.
“The cause of our patients' condition has now been found,” chief physician and professor at Rikshospitalet Hospital Pål Andre Holme told the newspaper Verdens Gang.
Three Norwegian healthcare employees were admitted to Rikshospitalet due to severe blood clots after vaccination. They were said to have had blood clots in unusual places all over their bodies, such as in the stomach and in the brain. Additionally, they experienced bleeding and had low platelet counts. One of the employees died on Monday, shortly after he was admitted for care.
“I see no other reason than that it is the vaccine that triggers it,” Holme told Verdens Gang. “We had a theory that this is a strong immune reaction that most likely came after the vaccine and has now come to the conclusion that it is indeed so.”
Furthermore, specific antibodies against platelets that can give such a picture were identified.
“We take the vaccine to get an immune response to what we are to be protected against. Then you develop, among other things, antibodies. Some antibodies can then react so that they activate the platelets, as in these cases, and cause a blood clot,” Holme explained.
The findings by the Norwegian crew contradict the conclusions of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), which both proclaimed the AstraZeneca vaccine safe and emphasised that its benefits outweigh the risks.
Meanwhile, two new patients who developed a seldom combination of blot clots and haemorrhaging following their jabs were admitted to Rikshospitalet on Thursday.
“What is happening now is that the National Institute of Public Health will now do its own research to see if you can get even closer to the cause of this, that what really started this,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, told national broadcaster NRK.
Following reports of blot clotting, a total of 20 countries stopped inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine, including Norway and EU heavyweights Germany and France.
So far, up to 120,000 Norwegians have been inoculated using the AstraZeneca shot. Worldwide, 17 million people have received AstraZeneca shots.