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The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) several months ago in the UK. Since then, millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered to people in the UK. However, the rollout of the vaccine has not been without its setbacks.
In recent weeks, the AstraZeneca vaccine has faced significant scrutiny over cases of rare blood clots in recipients.
The latest data from the MHRA, published on April 15, explained an estimated 20.6 million first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were given out in the UK by April 5.
Up to April 5, the MHRA had received Yellow Card reports of 100 cases of “major thromboembolic events (blood clots) with concurrent thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts)” in the UK following vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab.
The MHRA report added the events occurred in 61 women and 39 men aged from 18 to 85 years.
The overall case fatality rate of these events stood at 22 percent with 22 deaths.
In the UK, people under the age of 30 are now advised to receive an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Other nations have also implemented age limits on who should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, for the vast majority of people, experts agree the protection the AstraZeneca vaccine offers against COVID-19 outweighs the risks.
What is mRNA?
Many of the vaccines developed to protect against COVID-19 are forms of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.
The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are forms of mRNA vaccine.
These vaccines work by teaching immune cells to make a harmless piece of something called the “spike protein”.
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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after the protein has been made the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.
The cell then displays the protein piece on its surface, prompting the immune system to recognise it and build up an immune response.
After this process has taken place, the body is equipped with antibodies to help the body fight off a real COVID-19 infection in the future.
Does the AstraZeneca vaccine use mRNA?
Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine.
Instead, the AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector vaccine made from a weakened form of a common cold virus from chimpanzees.
The genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is produced once inside the body.
The immune system then responds and produces antibodies to help equip the body against a real case of COVID-19 in the future.
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