People under-30 are to be offered an alternative Covid jab to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to mounting evidence linking it to rare blood clots, the UK's vaccine advisory body said.
A review by UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found by the end of March 79 people in the UK suffered rare blood clots after vaccination - 19 of whom died, reports the BBC.
The regulator said this was not proof the jab had caused the clots - but it said the link was getting firmer.
MHRA said the side-effects of the Oxford vaccine were extremely rare and the vaccine's effectiveness is proven.
The regulator says the benefits of taking the vaccine are still very favourable for the vast majority.
But it concedes it is more finely balanced for younger people because the risk from Covid was so much lower.
People who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should still get their second dose. Only those who suffered one of these rare blood clots after the first dose should not get vaccinated, the MHRA said.
The review prompted the government's vaccine advisory group, the JCVI, to recommend that people aged 18 to 29 be offered an alternative vaccine where available.
People with blood disorders that leave them at risk of clotting should discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with their doctor before going for a jab.
Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of the Committee of Human Medicines, tells the briefing it has decided on the following advice:
- Pregnant women should continue to discuss with their doctor whether the benefit of having the vaccine outweigh the risks
- People with a history of blood disorders that increase the risk of blood clotting should only have the AstraZeneca jab where benefits outweigh potential risks
- People who experienced clots after their first dose should not receive the second jab
He said the committee will continue monitoring the data so it can refine the advice.
"It is important to remember that Covid-19 itself causes clotting and it causes lower platelets," he said.
The link between the vaccine and blood clots is getting firmer but an absolute link will need extensive scientific work, he added.