South Korea has recorded its first case of blood clotting linked to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, with one man being hospitalised, Reuters is reporting.
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong revealed on Monday that an unnamed man in his 30s had to be hospitalised for a persistent headache and muscle cramps after he was vaccinated on April 27.
“His condition has improved since then and we understand there is no big problem though he still needs monitoring,” Jeong added.
South Korea currently uses AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna vaccines in its vaccination programme. Over 4,600,000 doses of these vaccines have been administered in the country.
Around 3.27 million people in South Korea have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine so far.
Two weeks ago, South Korea announced that it would trial the mixing of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines in an effort to speed up vaccinations.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, also known as Vaxzevria, has been linked to a number of cases of potentially fatal blood clotting in several countries, with deaths recorded in Canada, the UK, Norway, Slovakia, and beyond.
As a result, the vaccine has been suspended in several countries and restricted to those in older age brackets – whose benefit from the jab is deemed to outweigh the risk – in other countries.
On top of links to blood clotting, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also been investigating reports of AstraZeneca’s vaccine causing Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition that affects the nerves. It mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness and pain. It can be treated and most people make a full recovery.
AstraZeneca has said it is working to understand individual cases and “possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events”, while Johnson & Johnson has said that no clear causal relationship has been established between the vaccine and the clots.
Last week, a group of German scientists claimed to have found the cause of the rare blood clots linked to the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines, and they say the jabs could be altered to prevent the problem
The research, led by Professor Rolf Marschalek from Goethe University, in Frankfurt, was published on Wednesday. It suggests the problem lies with the adenovirus vector technology used in the vaccines. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus to deliver important instructions to the nucleus of cells so as to produce a spike protein and trigger an immune response in the body.
Marschalek and his team believe some parts of the spike protein can split apart and create “mutant” versions that trigger the blood clots, in what the paper termed the “Vaccine-Induced Covid-19 Mimicry” syndrome.
“With the data we have, we can tell the companies how to mutate these sequences in a way that prevents unintended splice reactions,” Marschalek said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Since the start of the pandemic, South Korea has recorded nearly 140,000 cases of Covid-19 and 1,957 deaths.