Birth control creates higher risk of blood clots than AstraZeneca vaccine

risk of blood clots, astrazeneca vaccine
© Inna Mykhalchuk

Currently, several EU countries are suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reports of blood clot risks – in response, people are highlighting the higher risk of blood clots posed by contraceptive pills

Yesterday, the Republic of Ireland suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Today (16 March), Germany, France and Italy have also stopped the COVID vaccine from being distributed.

In late February, Germany received a shipment of 1.45 million doses, using up only over 200,000 – the population appearing reluctant to take up this vaccine in particular. 

Now, these countries are suggesting that reports of blood clots in Norway are a key concern for population health. Three individuals have found blood clots, while a fourth has died from a brain haemorrhage.

In January, a feud broke out between the European Commission and AstraZeneca, after the drugmaker announced that the bloc would be receiving 60% less vaccines than expected in their March delivery. This led to a palpable tension between the two parties. The world observed as “transparency mechanisms” were implemented by the Commission, and the CEO of AstraZeneca gave a long interview to explain that manufacturing was slower than expected.

Geir Bukholm, Director of the Division of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwigian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), commented: “The NIPH has put the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold in the coronavirus immunisation programme. Now it is the Norwegian Medicines Agency’s role to follow up on these suspected side effects and take the necessary measures in this serious situation.”

On Thursday (11 March), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) commented: “There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”

Both the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency found that AstraZeneca is still safe to use among all age groups.

The EMA are currently running an investigation into the vaccine. In Phase Three of clinical trials, blood clots did not present as a problem.

Currently, the UK is creating real-world data by vaccinating the population with AstraZeneca. The data reveals that the AstraZeneca vaccine was 60% effective at preventing COVID in people who were atleast 70 years old, while Pfizer was 61% effective in the same age group.

There have been 30 reports of blood clots across five million people in Europe.

The use of birth control creates significant blood clot risks

When it comes to real-world side effects, there is already a globally administered medication more likely to create risk of blood clots.

Research published in The Lancet found that oral contraceptives tripled the risk of blood clots, a risk which only further increased with obesity and a family history of blood clots.

According to UN figures from 2019, 842 million people use hormonal contraceptives. When it comes to hormonal methods of birth control, especially those that use estrogen, the person taking these pills is at a higher risk of blood clots.

Hormonal contraceptives using synthetic hormones, which aim to mimic the body without causing as much impact, are also creating the risk of blood clots. Progestin is a synthetic form of a key hormone, which exists in various forms across several birth control pills.

One type of progestin, drospirenone, was found by the University of Michigan to increase the risk of blood clots more than any other form of progestin. This is found in the popular contraceptive YAZ, Yasmin, Syeda, Zarah and Loryna. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about several of these contraceptives in relation to blood clots, but none were pulled from the market.

Blood clots can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when a blood clot forms deep in the body and can lead to serious internal damage or death if left untreated. This is a side effect of birth control pills, often buried in the small-print of a leaflet.

a potential 252,600 to 757,800 people are at risk of blood clots while using birth control.

The FDA estimates that the risk of birth control users developing a serious blood clot is three to nine women out of 10,000, every year. If roughly 842 million use hormonal methods across the world, that means a potential 252,600 to 757,800 people are at risk of blood clots while using birth control.

These numbers are based on various estimations, but illustrate a very real risk taken by millions of people across the world for the sake of their health – whether physical or mental.

One person pointed out the serious side effects of birth control and suggested that medical professionals were too quick to prescribe it:


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