AstraZeneca side effect trigger discovered by scientists

EMA warns that booster jabs can oversaturate the immune system

Data released in Spain shows total number of adverse effects to Covid vaccines. Image: Pixabay

Researchers from Cardiff and the US believe they may have found the trigger behind the rare blood clot complications that can occur after the Oxford/ AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. According to the team, the AstraZeneca side effect reaction can be traced to the way the adenovirus used by the vaccine to shuttle the coronavirus’s genetic material into cells binds with a specific protein in the blood, known as platelet factor 4 (PF4).

This may then spark a chain reaction within the immune system that ends in the development of blood clots, a condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Prof Alan Parker, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “VITT only happens in extremely rare cases because a chain of complex events needs to take place to trigger this ultra-rare side effect.

“Our data confirms PF4 can bind to adenoviruses, an important step in unravelling the mechanism underlying VITT. Establishing a mechanism could help to prevent and treat this disorder.

“We hope our findings can be used to better understand the rare side effects of these new vaccines and potentially to design new and improved vaccines to turn the tide on this global pandemic.”

There have been 426 cases in the UK so far out of about 50 million doses of the vaccine, equivalent to less than one in 100,000. The side effect has been linked to 73 deaths in the UK. The company also sent some of its own researchers to look into the AstraZeneca side effect and the results were published in the Science Advances Journal.

A spokesperson for the company told the BBC: “Although the research is not definitive, it offers interesting insights and AstraZeneca is exploring ways to leverage these findings as part of our efforts to remove this extremely rare side effect.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon