For the first time, a representative of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has claimed the existence of a link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots. While this sounds concerning, it's only a preliminary remark, and the EMA's safety committee "has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is ongoing," according to a statement to AP News.
The agency's final decision on potential links to blood clots will be decided "late Wednesday," said the European Union's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. The initial buzz of a link came when Marco Cavaleri, the EMA's head of vaccine strategy, told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero: "In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine. But we still do not know what causes this reaction," according to a MedicalXpress report.
This means other pre-existing conditions could still be responsible for those who've had severe reactions after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Cavaleri also stated that there are more cases of rare cerebral vein thrombosis in young people who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine than the EMA predicted.
More information will be shared by the agency later today, but Cavaleri was resolute: "[I]n the next few hours, we will say that there is a connection, but we still have to understand how this happens," reported the Associated Press via Barron's.
Background on AstraZeneca's vaccine and blood clots
If confirmed, today's statement from Cavaleri contrasts starkly with the EMA's statement from March 11, which said AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine showed no direct links to blood clots.
At the time, the EMA had pointed out that it would be carrying out more reviews of the vaccine's effects as time went on, and this latest update goes to show it's sticking to its word.
Questions on whether or not AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine causes serious blood clots have been circulating over the past weeks, with a number of countries halting their rollout of the vaccine.
European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, and more halted their rollouts in early March, and now countries worldwide are banning the use of the vaccine in anyone under 60 years old.
The halt comes after a number of people under 60 died from a rare brain blood clot after being injected with the vaccine.
These decisions are being put in place to safeguard the health of global populations. The move will no doubt slow down the vaccine's rollout and governmental plans for widespread national inoculations, however, it will also hopefully keep people safe from blood clots.
This was a breaking news story, and was updated as information became available.
Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots was confirmed. This has been updated to clarify that the EMA, as a whole, had yet to officially decide whether the link was confirmed.