Canadian health officials said on Monday they would stop offering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people under age 55 and require a new analysis of the shot’s benefits and risks based on age and gender.
The moves follow reports from Europe of rare but serious blood clots, bleeding and in some cases death after vaccination, mainly in young women. No such cases have been reported in Canada, with about 307,000 AstraZeneca doses administered.
“We are pausing the use of AstraZeneca vaccine to adults under 55 years of age pending further risk benefit analysis,” Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo said at a media briefing.
Njoo later noted that Canada was taking this “prudent” approach because alternative vaccines are available. Most of Canada’s supply so far has come from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc.
The National Advisory Council of Immunization (NACI), an independent expert panel, said the rate that the clotting complication happens at is not yet clear. So far, 40% of people who have developed it have died, but that may fall as more cases are identified and treated early, it said.