Britain yesterday moved to reassure the public over the safety of its coronavirus vaccine campaign, after deciding to offer alternatives to an AstraZeneca jab amid blood clot concerns.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to keep getting inoculated, a day after Britain's medicines regulator said the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm was linked to 79 cases of rare clotting and 19 deaths.
But those under 30 are to be offered alternatives the the AstraZeneca vaccine, more than 20 million doses of which have been administered since early December.
Hancock emphasised the serious side effects were "extremely rare", adding that all three of the vaccines so far approved for use in Britain were "safe for all ages".
Based on the most recent data, someone getting the AstraZeneca vaccine stands a 1-in-153,000 chance of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), the blood clot in the brain, or its equivalent for the digestive tract.
The risk of death, based on data as of March 22, is one in 1.4 million. To put that in a different perspective: the odds of getting hit by lightening in an average lifetime -- about 1 in 15,000, according to the US National Weather Service -- are more than 90 times higher than dying from a brain blood clots after receiving an AstraZeneca jab.
Germany decided in late March to ban its use for anyone under 60, while in Canada -- as in France -- the age threshold is 55. In Sweden the age cutoff is 65.
Italy and Australia yesterday halted the use of it to people under the age of 50. Philippines has halted its use on people over 50, while Belgium set the threshold at 55.