What We’re Reading: EMA Deems AstraZeneca Vaccine Safe; Aspirin May Reduce Severe COVID-19 Outcomes; US Makes Vaccines Available to Mexico, Canada

March 19, 2021
AJMC Staff

European Medicines Agency announces AstraZeneca vaccine is safe; a low-dose aspirin regimen may help reduce severe COVID-19 outcomes; President Joe Biden sends excess AstraZeneca vaccines to Canada and Mexico.

EMA: AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Safe

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is safe after numerous countries suspended its use over fear of blood clots, The New York Times reports. A review of millions of cases concluded the vaccine does not increase the overall risk of blood clots but notes there are still uncertainties. The EMA will also add a warning label to the vaccine so medical professionals can monitor for a potential rare complication leading to blood clots and bleeding in the brain, according to The Times. However, the agency noted the vaccine will prevent more illness and death than it might cause. The announcement comes as Europe faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and continues to suffer 20,000 deaths per week from COVID-19.

Aspirin May Reduce Severe COVID-19 Outcomes

A retrospective observational study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia found a low-dose aspirin treatment was associated with a lower likelihood of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, and in-hospital mortality among hospitalized patients with COVID-19, CIDRAP reports. Among the 412 hospitalized patients included in the study, those who took aspirin (of whom 75.5% were taking it before admission and 86.7% received it within 24 hours of admission) also needed significantly less oxygen support upon admission. These also patients exhibited lower initial levels of fibrinogen, a protein involved in blood clotting. Those who received the drug were more likely to have comorbidities including hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, or renal disease.

US Will Send Excess AstraZeneca Vaccines to Canada, Mexico

President Joe Biden announced the United States will send millions of surplus doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and Canada, The Hill reports. The vaccine is currently not approved in the United States, but the country has 7 million doses ready to distribute. Distribution plans are not finalized yet but include sending 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million doses to Canada. Press Secretary Jen Psaki also suggested the administration could share extra supplies with other countries in the future. The plan is not expected to impact the President’s mission to make vaccines available to all US adults by the end of May, according to The Hill, while Canada is expected to pay back the United States with doses later this year.