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Alberta confirms country’s second blood clot after AstraZeneca vaccine dose

Alberta has confirmed the country’s second rare blood clot case in a patient who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the province’s chief medical health officer announced Saturday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the male patient, who is in his 60s and recovering, marks the second Canadian case of the blood clot disorder known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT.

The diagnosis does not change the province’s risk assessment of the vaccine, she said, adding that she is taking the event “extremely seriously.”

<who> Photo Credit: CP

“These blood clots remain extremely rare, and anyone who is aged 55 and older faces much higher risks from COVID-19 infection than from this vaccine,” Hinshaw told reporters on a conference call.

She continued to recommend AstraZeneca for anyone 55 and older, saying it is the best way to protect their health.

“I know that reports of any adverse events can be scary, especially when it involves a new vaccine,” she said. “If I were in this age category I would get this vaccine.”

More than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered across Canada to date.

The global frequency of VITT has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses. In a stark comparison, Albertans 55 and older who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a one in 200 chance of dying from that infection, Hinshaw said.

In Europe, only a few dozen cases of the rare blood clots following inoculation have been reported compared to the millions vaccinated with AstraZeneca. Most of those cases have occurred within 14 days of the shot, and the majority were in women under 55.

“It’s not that there’s no risk of this outcome in those who are over 55 or that there’s no risk in men, but rather that it is still such a very rare risk,” Hinshaw said.

A Quebec woman was the first in Canada to develop a blood clot after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca.

The woman received the vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India, known as Covishield, and was recovering at home, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Tuesday.

A decision around a broader age range in which it is deemed safe to receive AstraZeneca shots is coming in the “near future,” Hinshaw said.

Other pandemic concerns simmered to the surface in Ontario on Saturday, a day after the premier announced anti-pandemic powers that allow police to stop any motorist or pedestrian and ask where they live and why they’re not home.

The strict new measures drew furious criticism as the number of infected people in hospital reached record levels, prompting the provincial government to reconsider the clampdown.

A government source speaking on background told The Canadian Press that a “clarification” of the police powers was pending final approval.

“We have heard a lot of feedback on this in the last 24 hours in terms of the scope and applicability,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “We will be issuing a clarification to police chiefs and the public about the scope and scale of the order.”

The “scoping down” clarification would make clear the aim of enforcement would be larger social gatherings in progress and people out and about would not be targeted, the source said.

Politicians and civil libertarians attacked the anti-pandemic restrictions earlier in the day, calling them misguided and describing the beefed-up police powers aimed at enforcing stay-at-home orders as overkill.

“I am very concerned about arbitrary stops of people by police at any time,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a Saturday tweet.

While violating restrictions can carry a $750 fine, failure to provide police with requested information can result in criminal charges, according to the province’s association of police chiefs.

Big and small police forces across the province, however, said they had no intention of exercising their new-found powers.

Civil rights groups, however, took little comfort in such statements.

“Ontario is one step closer to becoming a police state,” said Joanna Baron, executive director of the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation.

“Low income and minority communities have borne the brunt of this pandemic in terms of cases and mortality, and they are now more likely to bear the brunt of police enforcement.”

More than 2,000 patients were in Ontario’s hospitals due to the novel coronavirus for the first time since the onset of the year-long pandemic. Of the 2,065 patients receiving treatment, the province said 726 were in intensive care and 501 were on a ventilator.

Ontario logged 4,362 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, down from the single-day peak of 4,812 recorded a day earlier.

Quebec also reported its highest number of hospitalizations and intensive care cases due to COVID-19 since the second wave.

The province recorded 692 hospitalizations —175 of them in ICUs — over the previous 24 hours, health officials said Saturday.

The figures mark the highest number of hospitalizations since Feb. 19 and the highest number of ICU cases since Feb. 3.

Quebec’s case count climbed by 1,537 on Saturday.

Elsewhere, officials in Nunavut reported six new cases of COVID-19, all in the capital city of Iqaluit.

New Brunswick reported 11 new infections, while Nova Scotia logged eight.

Manitoba reported 183 new COVID-19 cases.



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