German scientists claim they have discovered why some coronavirus vaccines cause blood clots – and how to fix it.
Two vaccines, one from Johnson & Johnson and the other from AstraZeneca-University of Oxford have been linked to rare, but serious, blood clots, particularly among women under age 50.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths in the UK out of nine million shots and more than 100 in continental Europe out of 16 million.
As of Wednesday, the J&J vaccine has been linked to 28 cases in the U.S. out of more than 10.4 million shots.
In Europe, some countries have stopped using AztraZeneca’s jab completely, while others, including Britain, recommend that younger women get a different vaccine.
In the U.S., J&J’s shot was paused for 11 days by federal health regulators.
But in a new pre-print paper published on Wednesday, researchers at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, say the problem lies in the adenovirus vector – a common cold virus used so the vaccine can enter the body.
They say the vaccines can be adapted to prevent the rare side effect from occurring, reported the Financial Times.
Germans scientists say they have figured out why the Covid vaccines from AstraZeneca (left) and Johnson & Johnson (right) are linked to rare blood clots. In a new pre-print, the team says the problem is with the adenovirus vector, a common cold virus used to get the body to induce an immune response
Daily infections (3,180) spiked by 18 per cent compared to last Wednesday’s figure, reaching their highest level since April 12 (3,568). But deaths remained in single figures, with nine fatalities today up slightly on the three posted last Wednesday
Dr Rolf Marschalek, a professor at Goethe University, told the Financial Times the reason the vaccines have been causing these problems is because they are adenovirus vector vaccines.
Both J&J’s and AstraZeneca’s vaccine combine genetic material from the new virus with the genes of the adenovirus – which causes the common cold – to induce an immune response.
The cold virus is altered so it cannot make you sick and a little section of the COVID-19 vaccine genetic material, which codes for the spike protein, is inserted.
The spike protein is what the virus uses to enter and infect our cells. The vaccine is injected and the body recognizes the protein and makes antibodies against it.
That way, if you become ill with the real virus, your body recognizes it and knows how to fight it off.
Marschalek says the vaccine is sent into nucleus of our cells, where the genetic material is found, instead of into the cytosol fluid, liquid found inside cell where the virus makes it proteins.
Marschalek told the Financial Times that after entering the nucleus, parts of the spike protein break off and create mutated versions of themselves, which then enter the body and trigger the rare blood clots.
In particular, the vaccines were causing a condition known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).
Britain’s mammoth vaccine drive continued at full steam ahead, with 387,987 top-up jabs dished out across the country yesterday. It takes the UK’s number of fully vaccinated adults to more than 23.6million
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CVST is a rare type of blood clot that blocks the brain’s sinus channels of draining blood, which can cause hemorrhages.
It occurs in about five per million people in the general population.
In most cases, CVST occurred in combination with low levels of blood platelets, also known as thrombocytopenia.
It comes after MailOnline revealed a growing number of people are suffering from blood clotting disorders after their second dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.
The UK’s medical regulator found 15 cases in people recently given a top-up dose by May 12, the most recent count, up from six at the start of the month.
They claim the vaccine (top orange figure) is sent into the cell nucleus (Pt) instead of surrounding fluid, where parts of it break off and create mutated versions of themselves (PF4), which leads to the blood clots
So far more than 9million Britons have been given two doses of AstraZeneca’s jab, meaning the extremely rare clots are occurring in around one in 600,000 people.
Scientists told MailOnline it was ‘disappointing’ the extremely rare complication was becoming more frequent in double-jabbed patients.
The clots — which can occur in the brain — are happening alongside abnormally low platelet levels, known as thrombocytopenia.
But the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said symptoms were ‘milder’ and less frequent than after the first dose.
As of May 12, the MHRA had spotted 294 cases of the clots in Britons given an initial injection, affecting about one in 80,000.
The conditions were found to be occurring more frequently in young people, which has led to the British jab being restricted for use in under-40s.
Scientists believe in some people, the immune system sees the vaccine as a threat and over-produces antibodies to fight it.
These lead to the formation of clumps in the bloodstream, which can become deadly if the clots move towards vital organs and cut off supply
Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines use newer messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.
By comparison, mRNA vaccines use part of the pathogen’s genetic code and give instructions for our cells to make part of the spike protein so the body can recognize the virus and attack if we become infected.
Marschalek told the Financial Times that with mRNA vaccines, the genetic material of the spike protein is sent directly to the cell fluid and does not enter the nucleus.
‘When these…virus genes are in the nucleus they can create some problems,’ Marschalek told the Financial Times.
He says there is a fix, however, and says the vaccine can be genetically modified so the spike protein doesn’t split apart when it enters our cells.
He says he has not spoken to AstraZeneca yet, but that J&J has contacted his lab and that he is working them to improve their shot.
‘[J&J] is trying to optimize its vaccine now,’ Marschalek told the newspaper.
‘With the data we have in our hands we can tell the companies how to mutate these sequences, coding for the spike protein in a way that prevents unintended splice reactions.’
Under-21s may be more likely to catch the Indian Covid variant, Professor Lockdown warns
Under-21s may be more likely to catch the Indian Covid variant, one of the Government’s top scientific advisers warned today.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said there was a ‘hint’ in the data that younger people are more vulnerable to getting infected with the mutant strain.
The SAGE epidemiologist, who offered no evidence to back his claim, claimed it was ‘impossible’ to tell whether it was a biological effect of the virus evolving. He admitted it was possible the figures were skewed by the ‘seeding of infection’ in schools and colleges.
But another scientist discussing the threat of the Indian variant said reports of it spreading quicker in the young should be taken ‘seriously because that’s the first sign that you have a problem’.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at Cambridge University, said: ‘Often if you wait too long for the right data it’s too late.’ He spoke alongside Professor Lockdown at a German media briefing today.
Discussing the threat of the Indian variant to hopes of returning to normality next month, Professor Ferguson said said there was signs it was affecting children more than other strains.
He told a German briefing for science journalists: ‘There’s a hint in the data that under-21s are slightly more likely to be infected with this variant compared with other variants in recent weeks in the UK.
‘Whether it reflects a change in the biology or reflects what’s called founder effects and the context — the people who came into the country with the virus and then seeding of infection in certain schools and colleges — that’s impossible to resolve at the moment.’
But Professor Ferguson provided no figures to back up his claim and stressed there was no suggestion it causes more severe illness in youngsters.
Addressing the same topic, Professor Gupta said: ‘I do think we should take these reports [of it spreading more quickly in the young] seriously because that’s the first sign that you have a problem.
‘Often if you wait too long for the right data it’s too late. Hopefully the countries where they’re seeing this will be studying it in a kind of rigorous way so that we can get that information.’