Matt Hancock and scientists seek to reassure public over AstraZeneca jab

9:29am, Thu 08 Apr 2021
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Matt Hancock and chief scientists are seeking to maintain public confidence in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after regulators pointed to a one in a million chance of dying from a rare blood clot.

The Health Secretary said everyone should take a vaccine when their time comes, and the risk of experiencing a brain clot was the same as “taking a long-haul flight”.

He urged the under-30s, who will be offered an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca, to take a jab to protect loved ones and avoid the risk of long Covid, adding there were plentiful supplies of Moderna and Pfizer for this age range.

In a round of broadcast interviews, Mr Hancock said vaccines are clearly breaking the link between Covid cases and deaths in the UK and were saving “thousands of lives”.

The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million - I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight

He told Sky News: “The number of people dying from Covid halved in the last nine days… and is down 90% from the peak.”

All vaccines in use in the UK were “safe for all ages”, but the “extremely rare” risk of suffering a rare brain blood clot, and the tipping of the balance of risk for the under-30s, means they could be given other jabs instead.

Speaking directly to younger people who may be thinking they do not need a vaccine, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.

“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.”

He added: “The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million (the chance of developing a rare brain blood clot) – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”

Mr Hancock said there were almost 10.2 million people aged 18 to 29 in the UK, of whom 1.6 million have had their first vaccine.

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