Canada has reported its first case of blood clots linked to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The patient, a Quebec woman, is now recovering at home, according to CTV News.
Quebec’s Ministry of Health did not confirm the age or location of the patient, but Health Minister Christian Dubé later identified the individual as a woman and said there’s no danger to her life.
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters on Tuesday that the woman “is doing well” and that incidents like this appear to be rare.
Last week, the EU’s medical regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), determined after an intense scientific assessment that unusual blood clots with low platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. EMA’s safety committee also confirmed the overall benefits-risk remains positive.
Health Canada also says the side effect is extremely rare and the vaccine’s benefits still outweigh its risks, as the risk of getting blood clots from COVID-19 itself is far higher than from the vaccine.
“We have over 100,000 people who have been vaccinated [with the AstraZeneca vaccine] in the past five days and we’re talking about one case here,” said Legault.
“What we’re doing right now is hypervigilance, and it’s important to say so,” he added.
He also confirmed that the province’s health ministry has a protocol in place if they get reports of thrombosis. Quebec’s government said in a press release that this protocol helped them spot this particular case.
The ministry reported that the woman had two conditions: thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. Thrombocytopenia is a low platelet count in blood, while thrombosis a blood clot.
Unusual post-vaccine symptoms “are rare events that sometimes occur regardless of the vaccination campaign,” wrote Quebec’s health ministry in a statement on Tuesday.
“They may be due to one of the components of the vaccine or to the injection technique; they can also have other causes, which sometimes remain unknown,” the ministry added.
Quebec’s Ministry of Health also asked people who have been recently vaccinated to contact a doctor if they have experienced severe or persistent headaches, blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, cold limbs, persistent abdominal pain, or skin bruising.
The patient, whose case was reported as the first of its kind in Canada, received the vaccine known as Covishield. The production of this vaccine takes place at the Serum Institute of India, according to CTV News.
People under 55 in Canada are not currently being given the AstraZeneca vaccine, under current federal health regulations, because of an increased risk of blood clots for that age group. Quebec’s government did not specify if the patient in question was above or under the cut-off age for the vaccine.
More than 700,000 people have now received the AstraZeneca vaccine across Canada, with more than 110,000 of them in Quebec.
As of Monday, the province had administered 112,351 doses of the Covishield vaccine and 73,426 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s Public Health Director. With a single known blood clot, the rate is therefore about one in 100,000 doses, which is consistent with rates around the world.
Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dubé got the AstraZeneca vaccine a few weeks ago to reassure people that it was safe.
Last week Quebec received a large number of AstraZeneca vaccines, and made them available to people 55 and up. The province also had record vaccination numbers as a result. Prior to that, those 55 and up weren’t eligible for any vaccines. It also provided a number of drop-in clinics that required no appointment.