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The Blood Clot Risk From AstraZeneca's Vaccine, Explained

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People who received AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are at lower risk of blood clots than women taking birth control pills, people who smoke, and even those who ride a plane, the Department of Health said as it explained the potential side effect of the jab.

For every one million women who take the pill, 500 could develop blood clots, which translates to a 0.05 percent risk every time the drug is taken. For the AstraZeneca vaccine, it's four in every one million or a 0.0004 percent risk, the DOH said.

While blood clots from the vaccine are extremely rare, Filipino authorities paused the use of AstraZeneca while more data was being gathered on the possible side effect. This leaves the Philippines with just the Sinovac from China while awaiting for more vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, among others.

"No such thing as absolutely zero risk—in what we do, what we take. We always need to weigh benefit vs risk. And the benefit risk ratio may vary from person to person depending on factors such as age, exposure, underlying conditions determine risk," said Dr. Beverly Ho, DOH Director for Health Promotion and Communication Service and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau. "But in general, there is global consensus—the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection," she added.

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The DOH based its benchmarks on data from the British Medical Journal, which compared blood clot risks between the contraceptive pill and the COVID-19 vaccine. Aside from birth control, airplane rides and smoking are also more risky than the Astrazeneca vaccine in terms of blood clots, DOH said.

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One thousand in one million people or 0.1 percent develop blood clots due to high-altitude plane rides while 0.18 percent or 1,763 in one million people develop the said condition from cigarette smoking. 

The odds of getting hit by lightning in an average lifetimeabout one in 15,000are more than 90 times higher than dying from a brain blood clot after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, Agence France-Presse earlier reported.

The Food and Drug Administration had said that benefits of getting the AstraZeneca jab outweighed the risks, and that the suspension was a "precautionary measure." Updated guidelines on the use of the vaccine are being worked out.

Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, earlier suggested that a medical clearance, for one, must be required for those prone to blood clotting should the AstraZeneca vaccine return to its wide-range use.

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