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AstraZeneca vaccine side effect rare, occurs within a month of getting jab: Ex-ICMR Scientist

May 03,2024

New Delhi: A top Indian medical scientist has asked people not to panic as any side effect of a COVID-19 vaccine is a “rare occurrence”.

Former Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist R Ganga Ketkar, who was at the helm of affairs during the COVID pandemic, said symptoms of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) – a serious adverse event that causes blood clots – can only occur within five to 30 days of receiving a COVID vaccine and not now.

This comes as British pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca, which developed Covishield vaccine along with the University of Oxford, has admitted that the vaccine can cause a rare side effect.

“The benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks,” Ketkar told ET. “People should not worry as the number of cases are pretty small and TTS develops within 5-30 days after receiving the vaccine and not now.”

He said as the number of doses increases, the risk of TTS goes down. “There is no reason to worry at this point in time,” Ketkar added.

He said that vaccine developers continue post marketing surveillance, which means that they monitor the safety of vaccines once they reach the market. “One thing people should remember is that whether it is a medicine or vaccine, there will be a rare occurrence of diseases, but one will have to look at the benefits,” he said.

AstraZeneca is facing class action suits in the UK over allegations that the vaccine caused death and serious injury, including TTS that causes blood clots and a low blood platelet count. In India, Serum Institute of India manufactured the Covishield vaccine under licence from AstraZeneca.

Ketkar said there is a need to clear out myths. “If people worry, they tend to google and get influenced. It is possible if they think in a negative light, childhood vaccination will be hit.”

He said that unnecessary “unscientific” messages can only spread further panic in the society, and that should be stopped.

According to reports, AstraZeneca has admitted in a legal document that its COVID vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS”.

“In India, Covishield, which was used to vaccinate 90 per cent of India’s population, has done well,” a senior person from the COVID working group told ET, playing down concerns of adverse events, despite the rare risk of TTS.

Source: Pharma

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