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Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Canada says AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safe, but adds blood clot warning

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A senior receives the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as Quebec begins vaccinations for seniors over 85 years old in a clinic in Laval, Quebec, Canada February 25, 2021. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

March 24 (Reuters) - Canada's health department on Wednesday continues to back AstraZeneca Plc's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine even as it updated its label to provide information on rare blood clots associated with a low platelet count following an immunization shot.

Health Canada said it has not received any reports of these blood clots to date.

Canada, which is using AstraZeneca doses manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, has received 500,000 Covishield doses and expects to get 1.5 million more by May.

The warning label informs people to seek immediate medical attention if they develop shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, or persistent abdominal pain following AstraZeneca shots.

"Also, seek immediate medical attention if you experience after a few days severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision, or experience skin bruising or pinpoint round spots beyond the site of vaccination that appears after a few days," the label added.

However, the health department said it had assessed the available data and has determined that the vaccine has not been associated with an increase in the overall risk of thrombosis.

"Health Canada continues to be in regular contact with international regulators and the manufacturer of the AstraZeneca vaccine to review all evidence as it becomes available," the department said in its statement.

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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