Covid vaccine Covishield may lead to rare side effects, admits AstraZeneca

It was recently revealed that the Covishield vaccine can lead to a rare side effect known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. It can result in blood clots and a low platelet count.

In a big reveal related to Covid-19 vaccination, British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca has for the first time acknowledged that Covishield, its Covid vaccine, may lead to a rare side effect called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). This condition may cause blood clots coupled with low platelet counts.

The admission was made via a legal document submitted to the UK High Court, according to reports. It coincides with the pharmaceutical giant being sued over allegations of severe injuries and fatalities linked to its vaccine, which was co-developed with the University of Oxford and sold worldwide under various names, including Covishield and Vaxzevria.

Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca, was produced in India by Pune-based Serum Institute of India. It was one of the most widely administered Covid vaccines in the country. However, media reports stated that numerous families from around the world have initiated legal actions, claiming that side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine have caused severe harm. The legal proceedings began last year after Jamie Scott, a father of two suffered a permanent brain injury from TTS after receiving the vaccine in April 2021.

What is thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)?

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a rare but serious condition characterised by the combination of blood clots (thrombosis) and a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). It often involves clots in unusual locations, such as the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) or abdomen, which can lead to severe complications or death. Cases of TTS were observed in some people after getting vaccinated against Covid-19, reported the World Health Organisation.

Graphic representation of a blood clot
Blood clots are a common complication of TTS. Image Courtesy: Freepik

What causes thrombocytopenia syndrome?

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is primarily linked to certain Covid-19 vaccines. The exact cause is still not known, but it is believed to involve an immune response triggered by the vaccine, leading to the production of antibodies that activate platelets, causing clot formation while simultaneously reducing platelet levels. TTS remains a rare but serious concern, requiring immediate medical attention.

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Are there any risk factors for TTS?

While the exact cause is not identified, the risk of TTS is higher in young people and young women. However, this condition is exceptionally rare even among those with these risk factors.

What are the symptoms of TTS?

Symptoms of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) include:

  • Severe headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Leg pain or swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Neurological symptoms like vision changes or seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Easy bruising, or bleeding
cataracts in elderly
TTS can increase the risk of vision problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

These symptoms usually appear 4-42 days after receiving certain COVID-19 vaccines.

Complications of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) can be severe and potentially life-threatening. They include organ damage due to blood clots blocking blood flow, such as stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism. Additionally, TTS can lead to bleeding complications due to low platelet levels.

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How is TTS diagnosed?

Diagnosis of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) involves a combination of blood tests to assess platelet count and detect specific antibodies, and imaging studies such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI to identify blood clots.