The Janssen vaccine is now the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK’s medicines regulator. However, Public Health England (PHE) has warned that blood clots have been observed in a small number of people who have received the vaccine.
The European Pharmaceutical Review reports that the MHRA has approved the single-dose Janssen vaccine, which in trials has shown to be 85 per cent effective, and has met all the rigorous safety standards.
However, there have been a small number of reports that link the vaccine to an extremely rare blood clot complication, where a combination of blood clots and low levels of platelets (cells that help blood to clot) in the blood has been observed extremely rarely following vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen.
According to Public Health England (PHE), this includes severe cases with blood clots, including in unusual locations, such as the brain, liver, bowel and spleen in some cases in combination with bleeding.
These cases occurred within the first three weeks following vaccination and occurred mostly in women below 60 years of age.
PHE advises that following receiving the vaccine if you experience severe or persistent headaches, seizures (fits) mental status changes or blurred vision or unexplained skin bruising beyond the site of vaccination which appear a few days after vaccination, you should see medical attention immediately.
You should also do the same if you notice pinpoint round spots beyond the sit of the vaccination, develop shortness of breath, chest pain, leg pain, leg swelling, or persistent abdominal pain, PHE added.
The rare type of blood clot has also been reported in a small number of people after they received the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Both vaccines were developed using the same technology, and researchers now claim that this could be the cause of the rare blood clot disorder.
COVID-19 vaccines that employ adenovirus vectors – cold viruses used to deliver vaccine material – send some of their payloads into the nucleus of cells.
According to German researchers, some of the instructions for making coronavirus proteins could be misread this way, whinge could potentially trigger blood clot disorders in a very small number of vaccine recipients.
Dr Rolf Marschalek, a professor at Goethe University who led the study, said that after entering the nucleus, parts of the spike protein splice or split apart and create mutant versions which are unable to bind to the cell membrane.
The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19 and facilitates the coronavirus’ entry into host cells. These mutant versions of the protein then enter the body, triggering the rare blood clots, he suggested.
These findings make it likely that the Janssen vaccine, made by the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, will be advised for older adults, and discouraged for use for younger people.
Those aged under 40 are being offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK, due to the potential link to a type of rare blood clot in the brain.
The UK’s approval of the one-dose vaccine bolstered the fight against COVID-19, which was a welcome development amid fears of a third wave of the virus in the UK.
The single-dose programme is expected to speed up the rollout to vulnerable people in care homes and those living in remote locations.
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