Trigger Warning: Mention of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) or Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopaenia (VITT)
Although early studies from Europe have suggested that around 20% of TTS cases are deadly and slightly over 4% in Australia, India doesn’t have similar statistics for the disease. According to the All India Drug Action Network, the TTS vaccine’s approval was accelerated because the producer had not completed a “bridging study” on Indians.
According to Business Standard, although we don’t have all of the details, it looks that the AstraZeneca vaccination can activate platelets, which are small blood cells that help form blood clots and prevent bleeding. Platelet factor 4 (PF4), which binds to the AstraZeneca vaccine, can be released by active platelets in some people. This PF4 binding is hypothesised to cause the immune system to activate more platelets, causing them to stay together and reducing their number.
This can lead to thrombosis (blood clotting) and a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). TTS is characterised by blood clots with a low quantity of platelets. Unlike other types of blood clots, this mechanism is not like the usual process by which blood clots occur.
TTS appears to be caused by an abnormal immunological response, therefore, current research suggests that people who have had a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lung) or who use blood thinners regularly aren’t at a high risk of developing TTS, so they have been given a green signal for the Covishield vaccine. However, you are recommended to consult your doctor once before getting jabbed.
Alert: Government should take current studies into cognisance and must not allow those with a history of blood clots in the brain, abdomen or a previous low platelet count after using the blood-thinning drug heparin to take the vaccine.
The quality of testing and therapy has improved since these findings. Diagnostic tests and recommendations for recognising and treating TTS instances have reached significant advancement. Patients with low platelet count, indications of a blood clot and antibodies directed against PF4 are more likely to show TTS symptoms. Many of these tests can be completed in a short amount of time. Treatment can now begin right away using particular blood thinners and immune-suppressing drugs.
Any vaccine can cause general adverse effects. These symptoms, which occur in the first two days following immunisation with the AstraZeneca vaccine, include headaches, fever (chills), muscle and joint pain, stomach ache, fatigue ache at the injection site that usually goes away with simple remedies like paracetamol.
Blood clots in case of TTS often occur in unusual locations, such as veins of the abdomen (splanchnic vein thrombosis) and brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis). The symptoms often occur 4-30 days after receiving the jab. Persistent or severe headache, blurred or double vision, shortness of breath, severe abdomen, back or chest discomfort, swelling, redness or discomfort in a leg, and unusual bleeding or bruising could indicate TTS after receiving the AstraZeneca (or Covishield) vaccination. If you have any of these symptoms within 4-30 days of immunisation, seek urgent medical attention.
I am pro-vaccines and I would appeal for the release of phase 3 trial data of Covaxin and peer-reviewed studies. The medical fraternity must give more clarity over how many people got Covid after first or second dose (of Covaxin or Covishield), how many of them had to get hospitalised, and how many died after receiving the vaccine. And most importantly with what variant, because we need genome sequencing and tracking of mutations.
Risks and advantages of the vaccine must be balanced and in my opinion, while TTS is extremely rare and Covishield is safe, some people may have concerns and a desire to talk to their doctor. This is necessary so that people are able to make an informed decision.
Note: The article was originally published here.