COLLECTIVELY, we breathed a sigh of relief when the Covid vaccination programmes commenced.

In the UK to date, more than 21 million have received their first dose of the Astra-Zeneca (AZ) vaccine. Unfortunately, 100 have suffered a rare immune-system related blood clotting disorder, and sadly 22 have died. Half of the total had a condition known as cerebral sinus venous thrombosis (CVST), the remainder having clots elsewhere. While the rate is less than five per million, there are real concerns it may affect people’s decision to have the vaccination. A March poll suggests faith in the vaccination among UK residents has dropped by 4 per cent, although it remains at a healthy 77 per cent. In some European countries it is half that.

While clots have been observed in a wide age range (18-85), they are more common in the younger group, one of the reasons under 30s are being offered an alternate vaccine if possible. Female to male is 61 to 39 cases. It is thought this is due to a greater number of females being in frontline caring roles.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which works in the same way as that from AZ has been paused in the US after six clots and one fatality were observed in a total of 6.8 million doses.

So, does this mean these vaccines are not fit for purpose? No, although further research needs to be done. We have to compare the background incidence of a clot in the general population at any time against the risk following vaccination

Every month in the UK, 3,000 individuals will suffer a blood clot of some description. This works out at a background incidence of 44 per million, based on a population of 68 million. CVST is an incredibly rare condition, with a background rate of 5 per million, roughly the same as that observed in those who had the AZ vaccine.

Covid itself it a prothrombotic condition, meaning it pre-disposes you to clots.

Medicines used every day, most notably the oral contraceptive pill, have a higher incidence of blood clots than the AZ vaccine. Indeed, pregnancy has a higher incidence. It seems that many of those who suffered a clot after the AZ vaccine had a genetic disposition.

Both the European Medicines Authority (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) agree that the AZ vaccination is safe, and I have no reason to believe or argue otherwise.