AstraZeneca vaccine safe despite blood clot death concerns, doctors say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved in the United States after testing was put on hold following the deaths of at least two patients in Europe from blood clots.

Twelve countries in the European Union have suspended the use of the vaccine because of a possible link to blood clots, yet researchers said there is no evidence that patients who get the vaccine are any more likely than others to develop blood clots.

"Blood clotting is less common in vaccines than in the general population," said Dr. Richard Novak, UIC Chief of Infectious Diseases.

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Nevertheless, Dr. Novak said, following media reports of illness and death after getting the vaccine, many medical experts fear it will play into the resistance some people already have of getting vaccinated.

"Undoubtedly as a result of this a lot of people won't take the vaccine and get COVID," Dr. Novak said.

Dr. Novak has been involved in trials of other COVID-19 vaccines and said the AstraZeneca vaccine has already gone through rigorous testing. Following the deaths in Europe, however, testing in the U.S. was put on hold for several months, leaving the U.S. with a large supply of the drug but no use at this point in this country.

Now, President Biden is considering sharing it with other countries.

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"With the importance of helping stop the spread of the virus in other countries we are assessing how we can loan doses," said White House Spokesperson, Jen Psaki.

It will be several weeks at least before AstraZeneca can apply for FDA approval in this country. But if it is approved, most health experts we spoke with said the benefits of getting vaccinated and protecting yourself from COVID-19 far outweigh the risks of a negative side effect from the vaccine.
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