As AstraZeneca Makes U-Turn On Covishield Side Effects, A Lookback At The COVID Vaccine's Controversies

Four years after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca has made a big revelation about its COVID Vaccine. The vaccine, commonly known as Covishield in India, has been linked to cause TTS - a rare condition of blood clots and low platelet counts.

AstraZenca Makes U-Turn On Covishield Side Effects Photo: AP

Four years after the COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines emerged, British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has now admitted that its COVID-19 vaccine can cause a rare but major side effect. As reported by The Telegraph UK, the pharma giant has admitted in court documents that the AZ vaccine can lead to blood clots and a low platelet count.

This big revelation from AstraZeneca comes after a lawsuit was filed against the pharma giant over claims that its COVID vaccine have caused deaths and severe injuries amongst several people. Victims impacted by Vaxzevria (known as Covishield in India) filed a case with the UK High Court and have sought damages of up to 100 million pounds.

As AstraZeneca continues to fight this case, the revelations made by the British-Swedish giant have resurrected the fears and controversies which emerged in 2021, when the vaccine was rolled out.

AstraZeneca and Covishield - A Lookback

AstraZeneca, along with Oxford University developed its Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine - AZD12222 or Vaxzevria , was commonly known as Covishield in India and was designed to protect the human body against SARS-Cov-2 virus.

In India, the AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by Serum Institute of India. SII also manufactured the vaccine for distribution to other low and middle income countries fighting the pandemic.

The AZ vaccine worked by utilising a weakened version of the common cold virus (adenovirus) found in chimpanzees, which was modified to carry the protein gene of COVID. The vaccine, once injected, would produce antibodies and activate T-cells to fight off the COVID-19 virus.

Side Effects Of COVID Vaccines Cause Panic

Shortly after the vaccine was approved for the public and administered, reports of its side-effects caused widespread panic amongst the public.

As per the World Health Organisation, side-effects such as discomfort at the injection site, fatigue, fever, headache, nausea, joint or muscle pain, swelling, redness at the injection site, dizziness, sleepiness, sweating, abdominal pain, and fainting - were named and commonly reported by those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine. The UN agency added that these side effects had also been reported from other COVID vaccines and were termed as "short-term" effects.

However, along with these short term effects, many reported that the AZ vaccine can also cause blood clots, heart inflammation and an array of cardiovascular complications.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Banned By Various Countries

Despite its widescale production, many countries decided to ban AstraZeneca's vaccine after cases of blood clots due to the vaccine were reported.

Denmark, Ireland, Thailand, The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Congo and Bulgaria were amongst the first to ban the vaccine. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Sweden, Latvia, Slovenia, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia soon followed suit due to blood clots reported amongst those who were administered the vaccine and due to public concerns of the safety of the vaccine.

However, during the pandemic, the World Health Organisation addressed the concerns around Covishield and stated that the benefits outweigh the risks and hence urged for vaccinations to continue.

The Recent Revelation Of TTS

Fast forward to 2024, the British pharma giant has admitted in court that its vaccine can cause a condition which involves the formation of blood clots and low platelet levels in humans.

As stated in the documents submitted to the UK High Court, AstraZeneca has admitted that its vaccine can cause a rare side effect called Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome. The company admitted that "the AZ vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause TTS."

However, the exact causal mechanism of how the vaccine causes TTS remains unknown. The pharma company added that TTS can also occur without the vaccine as the causation would differ in each individual case.

Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a condition associated with certain COVID-19 vaccines. The condition has mainly been linked with Covishield and Johnson and Johnson's Janssen vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

The condition presents itself with blood clots in unusual parts of the body and is accompanied by low platelet counts. Some of its symptoms include severe headache, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and leg swelling.

With the exact causation not known, TTS is also seen as an immune response triggered by the adenovirus vector used in vaccines such as Covishield.