AstraZeneca Covid vaccine related to another rare but deadly blood clotting disorder

A week after British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca withdrew its COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, the organisation announced on Thursday that its vaccine, made in collaboration with Oxford University, was found to increase the risk of a rare but deadly blood clotting disorder known as vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT).

The reason for VITT was found to be “an unusually dangerous blood autoantibody directed against a protein termed platelet factor 4 (or PF4)”. (AFP)

VITT is not unknown and it emerged as a new disease after the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India and Vaxzevria in Europe, during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2021, IANS reported.

The reason for VITT was found to be “an unusually dangerous blood autoantibody directed against a protein termed platelet factor 4 (or PF4)”.

In the studies conducted in 2023, researchers from Canada, North America, Germany, and Italy described an almost identical condition featuring the PF4 antibody, which proved fatal in certain instances after contracting a natural adenovirus infection, commonly associated with the common cold.

In a new research, Australia’s Flinders University along with other experts found that PF4 antibodies in adenovirus infection-associated VITT as well as classic adenoviral vector VITT were sharing similar molecular fingerprints.

Professor Tom Gordon from Flinders told IANS, “Indeed, the pathways of lethal antibody production in these disorders must be virtually identical and have similar genetic risk factors.”

He added that the “findings have the important clinical implication that lessons learned from VITT are applicable to rare cases of blood clotting after adenovirus (a common cold) infections, as well as having implications for vaccine development”.

On Thursday as per Reuters, AstraZeneca revealed that the vaccine’s COVID-19 prevention treatment successfully lowered the risk of infection among individuals with compromised immune systems, meeting the primary objective of the late-stage trial.

The company stated that sipavibart, a long-acting antibody therapy, demonstrated a “statistically significant reduction” in symptomatic COVID-19 cases among immunocompromised patients, Reuters reported.

Iskra Reic, the company’s Executive Vice President for Vaccines and Immune Therapies said, “Immunocompromised patients currently have limited or no options for COVID-19 protection and continue to face a significant burden of disease, despite often being fully vaccinated…we will now work with regulatory authorities globally to bring sipavibart to these vulnerable patients.”

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