‘Risk of clotting from COVID-19 could be 100 times more than from vaccines’, says former WHO chief scientist – Healthcare News


Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca recently admitted that its COVID-19 vaccine can cause a rare side effect of blood clotting. This acknowledgment came amidst legal action against the company that alleged severe harm and deaths linked to the vaccine, resulting in a rising concern among the people.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan former Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), in an interaction with The Indian Express, gave her insights on several issues concerning COVID-19 vaccines. Among this, she also touched upon the subject of clotting due to the vaccines.

“The clotting due to Covid is many times, perhaps even a hundred times, more than the clotting due to the vaccine”, she said.


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Addressing the public anxiety regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, she expressed concern that this could undermine public confidence in vaccines. She emphasized the rigorous testing vaccines undergo for efficacy and safety. She highlighted that regulatory agencies conduct post-marketing surveillance or phase IV studies to detect rare side effects that could have been missed in clinical trials with smaller participant numbers.

She also elaborated that clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines involved 30,000 to 40,000 participants, but rare side effects, like Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), emerged when millions were vaccinated.

“Every regulatory agency, including the WHO, looked at the safety profile again, assessed the risk-benefit ratio, and concluded that the benefits far outweighed the risks”, she said

Concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines

The rare side effects associated with COVID-19 vaccines like Covishield and Covaxin include pericarditis, myocarditis, and blood clotting.

Earlier this month, parents of 8 victims from Kerala, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Kapurthala alleged that the deaths of their children were a result of the side effects of the Covishield vaccine. They intended to sue Pune’s Serum Institute of India and government officials responsible for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Challenges in Communicating Science

Dr. Swaminathan discussed the difficulty of communicating scientific information to the public. She noted that vaccine hesitancy is not linked to education levels, as it is higher in well-educated regions like Western Europe and the US compared to India. Misunderstandings about scientists’ debates during the pandemic led to distrust, worsened by social media. She expressed that better public health communication and education are needed to counter misinformation.


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