AstraZeneca vaccine. | Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo

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The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to rare blood clots and the risks prompted several European countries to ignore World Health Organisation advice and stop using AstraZeneca.

A new study by researchers in Denmark and Norway has found slightly increased rates of blood clots in people who were given the AstraZeneca vaccine, compared to expected rates in the general population, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

The researchers studied the blood clot rates and related conditions of 280,000 people in Denmark and Norway, who were given the AstraZeneca jab between February and March this year.

They used national health records to compare how often people had heart attacks, strokes or blood clots within 28 days of their first dose of AstraZeneca, compared to the rates in the general population of Denmark and Norway.

The study found 59 vein blood clots, compared to 30 expected in the general population which equates to 11 more vein blood clots per 100,000 vaccinations, and 2.5 more blood clots in the brain per 100,000 vaccinations.

“The study proves that countries were wrong to stop vaccinating people with AstraZeneca and confirms that the benefits far outweigh the risks for most age groups,” according to Professor Paul Hunter from East Anglia University. “Countries that delayed their vaccination programmes at a time of high transmission by declining to use available Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines should know that their decision will have contributed to an increase in the number of avoidable deaths from Covid-19.”

The Danish and Norwegian researchers both stressed that people are 3-times more likely to die if they’re not vaccinated.