ondon’s top nurse has moved to dismiss fears about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine being associated with blood clots by saying there had not been a single such case in the capital.
Martin Machray said 2.75m doses had been administered in London, the majority of them AstraZeneca rather than the Pfizer-BionTech alternative, and there had been no reports of associated blood clots.
Mr Machray told the London Assembly health committee on Tuesday: “In the 2.75 million doses of vaccine we have given, both AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech in London, we have seen no cases reported of blood clots associated with the vaccine. None.”
It came as all Britons over 50 were today invited to book both doses of their vaccine online.
Mr Machray admitted that the initial preference among Londoners for the Oxford jab “had changed” and would be monitored but said neither the vaccinators nor patients were able to “pick and choose”, except in the case of underlying health conditions.
“I’m just eternally grateful we have a vaccine we can offer at all,” he said. “That is our way out of this. We should be eternally grateful to our scientists and our laboratories and our drug companies for producing this vaccine so quickly. It is safe and it is effective.”
Labour assembly member Unmesh Desai said he had seen a patient turn down the jab at a vaccination centre in Stratford on being told he was being given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Onkar Sahota, a GP and chairman of the assembly’s health committee, said patients were saying: “I’m already seeing in general practice, people saying ‘We don’t want to have AstraZeneca. We want to have Pfizer’.”
Mr Machray said: “Britain has got one of the most well-developed and mature safety reporting systems in the world. If there was an associated blood clot, we would know about it.”
He added: “There are probably100 blot clots reported in London every day anyway, despite the vaccine, because people suffer from blood clots. Just because something happens and something else happens, you can’t put the two together.
“We continue to believe, until the scientists tell me [otherwise], that this is a safe vaccine on proven technology.”
Mr Machray said it was a “frightening prospect” to think that some communities in London would be at greater risk of a third wave because they had chosen not to have the jab.