AstraZeneca Admits Covishield Linked to Rare Blood Clotting Disorder

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In a startling disclosure, AstraZeneca has admitted that its COVID vaccine, Covishield, might lead to TTS or Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, a rare blood clotting condition. The disclosure surfaced in legal documents submitted by the European pharmaceutical giant in a class action lawsuit filed against them, in London.

  • AstraZeneca has acknowledged that its COVID vaccine can trigger a rare blood clotting disorder known as Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).
  • While rare, TTS is a severe condition that can cause both blood clots and a decrease in blood platelet count.
  • Speculation about abnormal blood clotting as a potential side effect of the COVID vaccine has long circulated. However, the long-awaited admission from pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca comes to light in legal documents filed while facing 51 lawsuits in the UK.
  • The COVID vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University, is licensed for manufacturing by the Serum Institute of India as Covishield in India.
  • Over 175 crore doses of Covishield have been administered in India so far.
  • Concerns arose when the Health Ministry of India identified 26 cases of thromboembolism in May 2021, all occurring after the administration of Covishield in patients.
  • Following reports of some blood clotting incidents, several European countries had also, temporarily, halted the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • This revelation surfaced in a report by UK publication The Telegraph, which detailed the 51 lawsuits filed against AstraZeneca by individuals affected by the COVID vaccine’s side effects.
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  • Covishield, a vaccine for COVID-19, has been highlighted for its side effects and is now under intense scrutiny and questioning.
  • Covishield was developed by a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca. It is produced by Serum Institute of India. 
  • AstraZeneca has admitted in court papers that its COVID-19 vaccine could lead to TTS in very rare cases. 
  • TTS stands for Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).
  • This vaccine was the most administered vaccine in India and this is the reason it grasped the headlines in India.
  • Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) is a condition of low immunity which is often seen with blood clot formation (Thrombosis) and low platelet count (Thrombocytopenia).
  • Severe headaches, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, neurological deficits and leg swelling are some of its symptoms.
  • Diagnosis of these diseases starts with blood tests and identification and studying of clots to determine the platelet levels.
  • Treatment of this syndrome involves a multidisciplinary approach comprising hospitalization and anticoagulation therapy. This ensures that no further clotting is developed and also acts as a supportive care.
  • Platelet levels and immune-related problems can also be stabilised by using Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) and Plasma Exchange.
  • AstraZeneca, one of the biggest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, is facing court cases in London, UK because of the claims that its vaccine caused deaths. 
  • 51 cases have been filed against the company.
  • The cases seek compensations from the company upto 100 million pounds as its COVID-19 vaccine has caused death and serious injury.
  • AstraZeneca has admitted that covishield in one of the rare cases can cause TTS.
  • Dr. Ishwar, Secretary General, People’s Health Organisation-India, Mumbai said “Once this virus is genetically modified or engineered to match the SARS-CoV-2, a causative organism for Covid-19, this works on a spike protein. So, the vaccine is incorporated with the S spike protein genetic sequence,”
  • He further said about the vaccine “sometimes instead of just getting into muscles, it also enters the bloodstream. Once it enters the bloodstream, the adenovirus in the vaccines acts like a magnet, with a special affinity to a type of protein in the blood called platelet factor 4 (PF4),”
  • “It is theorised that such antibodies then react and clump together with PF4, forming the blood clots that have become so heavily linked with the vaccine. Such clots in the brain and heart can cause disastrous adverse effects,” the doctor further said
  • Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, co chairman of National Indian Medical Association (IMA) said “The court admission is nothing new. In fact, these are well documented facts validated since early 2021 (soon after vaccine rollout). The World Health Organisation (WHO) wrote about it in May 2021 and updated in 2023.”
  • He further added “Therefore, in 2024, people are not at risk of TTS. Also, heart attacks and strokes we see in practice are not caused by TTS, which is an exceptionally rare immunological reaction that leads to clots in certain locations such as the brain and elsewhere,”
  • Dr. Ishwar said “No, we need not because it has happened to a very few people,”
  • Dr. Rajeev said “People who are vaccinated have an overall lower risk of death from Covid as well as complications such as post-Covid heart attacks and strokes afterward”
  • He further added “Although there are extremely rare serious side effects for vaccines, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Covid vaccines have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from dying. For example, in the US, 232,000-318,000 people have died from Covid, due to refusal to vaccinate from disproportionate fear of vaccination,”

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Question 1: What is the issue with Covishield vaccine?

Answer: The issue with Covishield vaccine revolves around AstraZeneca’s acknowledgment of its potential to induce Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS). 

Question 2: How effective is Covishield vaccine in India?

Answer: The issue with Covishield vaccine revolves around AstraZeneca’s acknowledgment of its potential to induce Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).

Question 3: What are the TTS side effects?

Answer: The side effects of TTS include frequent and lasting headaches, blurred vision, unnatural pain in the abdomen, swelling in the feet, chest pain, to name a few.

Question 4: Is Covishield safe?

Answer: The Serum Institute of India, licensed manufacturer of Covishield in India, had issued a list of contraindications of receiving the vaccine, on their website. However, there is a slight concern about its safety owing to the grave side effects.

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