A clinical trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine involving young children and teenagers has been halted by Oxford researchers as British drug regulators conduct a safety review of the two-shot regimen.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is looking into a possible link between the vaccine and blood clots in people across the world, including in several European countries. So far, there have only been 30 cases of blood clots out of 18 million doses administered across the European continent, including seven fatalities. Most of the cases were diagnosed as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which are clots that drain blood from the brain and can lead to strokes.
Marco Cavaleri, the head of vaccines for the European Medicines Agency, told an Italian newspaper Tuesday the agency was prepared to confirm a link between the troubled vaccine and blood clots, but the EMA issued a statement to Agence France Presse denying those claims, saying it expected to announce its findings either Wednesday or Thursday.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has had a troubled rollout across the world, initially because of a lack of information from its late-stage clinical trials on its effect on older people, which has slowed vaccination efforts throughout Europe. Many nations stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the blood clotting incidents.
Britain adds Moderna vaccine
Meanwhile, Britain is adding the highly successful Moderna two-shot vaccine to its immunization campaign beginning Wednesday in Wales. Moderna’s vaccine is the third approved for use in Britain after the AstraZeneca and Pfizer versions.
The 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine ordered by Britain comes as it deals with a shortfall of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to manufacturing issues.
The pandemic has sickened more than 132.5 million people across the globe since it was first detected in central China in late 2019, and more than 2.8 million deaths have been reported, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Research Center. [[ COVID-19 Map - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (jhu.edu) ]] Brazil’s health ministry reported 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, its worst single-day death toll from the pandemic, pushing the number of coronavirus fatalities there to nearly 337,000, the second highest in the world, just behind the 556,529 deaths in the United States.
The pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc on preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. The governor of the western Japanese prefecture of Osaka said Wednesday he is canceling the traditional Olympic torch relay, which was due to move through Osaka next week, due to a record high 878 new infections posted on Tuesday.
Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura declared a medical state of emergency Wednesday, warning that the prefecture’s medical system is near collapse, with a hospital bed occupancy rate at 70 percent capacity. Yoshimura attributed the spike in new infections to new, more contagious variants of the infection that are spreading rapidly across Osaka. The COVID-19 disease is caused by the coronavirus.
Japan is dealing with a rising rate of new infections amid an extremely slow rollout of vaccines.
COVID impact on brain
A new study published Wednesday in the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry has found that 34 percent of COVID-19 survivors suffer from either neurological or psychiatric conditions within six months of infection.
An analysis of more than 230,000 patients revealed that 17 percent were diagnosed with anxiety, with 14 percent suffering from mood disorders.
The researchers also found that survivors were at 44 percent greater risk of suffering from neurological and psychiatric illness compared with people recovering from flu, and at 16 percent greater risk than people suffering from other respiratory tract infections.