India said on Monday it has identified 26 suspected cases of bleeding and clotting among the many millions of recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a risk the country’s Ministry of Health described as “minuscule” as it fights a devastating covid-19 outbreak.
India’s Ministry of Health said in a press release on Monday that the Covid-19 side effects monitoring committee reviewed 498 cases of severe or severe impacts among the 164 million doses of AstraZeneca (called Covishield in India) administered.
Of these, 26 were potentially “thromboembolic,” meaning the formation of a clot in a blood vessel that could break off and plug another vessel, according to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry noted that this “minuscule but definite risk” —0.61 cases of bleeding or clotting per million doses-is lower than the UK rate of 4 and Germany’s rate of 10 per million doses.
The risk is “in line with the expected number of diagnoses of these conditions,” the ministry said.
The vaccine “continues to have a definite positive benefit risk profile with enormous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths due to Covid-19,” the ministry wrote.
Some countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots, although researchers and regulatory agencies have repeatedly concluded that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. India is moving as fast as possible to vaccinate its massive population with international support as it fights one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. The country is reporting an average of 281,386 new cases and 4,106 deaths each day. As of Monday, just over 10% of the population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 3% of Indians are fully vaccinated.