Following the publication of a Global News report, Hamilton Public Health Services has confirmed the second instance of a man in his 60s who developed a blood clot after receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca-Covishield COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are confirming that Hamilton has Ontario’s second case of the rare blood clotting condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) … The patient has received treatment and continues to receive care in hospital,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, told Global News in a statement Friday evening.
“While these serious reactions remain extremely rare, there is a robust process in place to monitor for any adverse events and have taken steps to ensure that these events are identified and treated as quickly as possible.
“All COVID-19 vaccines available in the province have been determined to be safe and effective by Health Canada, and have been shown to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death.”
The confirmation also came on the same day the Ontario government revealed a man in his 60s developed a clot after receiving his first dose of the vaccine, adding he developed VITT. It was not clear when the man was inoculated, but officials said he was treated and is currently at home recovering.
After the statement was released, Global News was contacted by family members of another man in his 60s who, they said, was admitted to a Hamilton hospital weeks ago and noted he had his first dose of the AstraZeneca-Covidshield vaccine in late March.
The family members, who didn’t want to be identified due to privacy concerns, said the man has been in an intensive care unit for approximately two weeks and is still there.
“He has had a confirmed stroke. He still has the clots, the blood clots (are) in his brain, and he is on oxygen. He was on a ventilator. He’s not anymore,” a family member said.
Global News also confirmed Friday morning the second man received a positive diagnosis for VITT on Tuesday.
However, the provincial government only disclosed one unrelated case to the public on Friday.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, reiterated the points raised by Richardson about reactions to the vaccines and the overall safety of each of the approved vaccine, including the AstraZeneca shot.
In his statement released before the second confirmation, only four blood clot cases have been detected of the 1.1 million doses of the vaccine that have been administered in Canada to date.
When contacted by Global News Friday morning, representatives in the premier’s office and health minister’s office said they were only aware of the one case and would investigate the report.
In the course of making multiple inquiries, a Global News reporter was told to call Hamilton Public Health Services to ask for an update on the issue even though the second man was still hospitalized. Hospital systems are ultimately accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Health.
As of Friday evening, the Ontario government didn’t release additional information relating to the confirmation put out by Hamilton Public Health Services.
Meanwhile, Williams encouraged people to get vaccinated in an effort to protect themselves against COVID-19.
“The Health Canada-approved vaccines are the best way to protect your health and those around you. Ontarians are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and monitor their health after receiving their vaccination,” he said Friday morning.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization previously recommended the vaccine should only be made available to Canadians over the age of 55 after reports of blood clots in younger recipients. The body revised its guidance on Friday, saying it could be offered to people as young as 30 under certain criteria.
On Sunday, the Ontario government announced it was lowering the threshold for people to get the AstraZeneca vaccine to people who are 40 and older. On Friday, a spokesperson said due to a lack of supply the government wouldn’t be lowering the threshold to those 30 and above.
Both the European Medical Association and Health Canada have both maintained that the benefits of using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine still outweigh any of the risks.
“Reports of blood clots with low platelets in people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are very rare,” the Public Health Agency of Canada previously told Global News in a statement.
“Based on all of the evidence available internationally to date, Health Canada continues to consider that the benefits of the AstraZeneca and Covishield vaccines to protect against COVID-19 outweigh the potential risks.”
— With files from David Lao