Media Outlets Misreport on AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine's Risks of TTS as 'New'

Oxford-AstraZeneca has always specified the rare side-effects of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Rujuta Thete
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Fact-Check: AstraZeneca had listed down these risks of Covishield including TTS since 2021.</p></div>

Fact-Check: AstraZeneca had listed down these risks of Covishield including TTS since 2021.

(Photo: The Quint)


AstraZeneca, a British pharmaceutical company, that manufactured Covishield is in the talks again after they in a court document that their vaccine can cause rare side effects like thrombosis.

The AstraZeneca vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection was manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India.

The company is facing a lawsuit for allegedly causing deaths and health effects due to its vaccine, revealed to the court that their vaccine "can, in very rare cases, cause TTS (Thrombosis Thrombocytopenia Syndrome)."

What is the problem here?: Along with social media users, several media outlets like India Today, The News Minute, Zee News, Business Today, ETV Bharat and Times Now shared this to claim that the company admitted the vaccine's side effects publicly for the very "first time".

(Archives of similar claims can be seen here and here.)

An archive can be seen here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

Another angle: Social media users are sharing this amid the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party for endorsing and supporting Covishield.

  • The claim also mentioned that Adar Poonawala's Serum Institure donated RS 52 crores of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) via electoral bonds.

An archive can be seen here.

(Source: X/Screenshot)

Some clarity: Both these narratives added in these claims are misleading and taken out of context to added a political angle to a rather scientific information.

How did media outlets misreport this?: The information about side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, including TTS, is NOT new.

  • In 2021, AstraZeneca's packaging insert included all the risks of the vaccine along with the vaccine supplies.

  • This also clearly mentioned about the risk of TTS is very rare, less than 1/100,000 patients.

  • This packaging insert was released in October 2021.

The risk of TTS is very rare in less than 1/100,000 patients.

(Source: Serum Institute /screenshot)

The vaccine carries this rare side-effect is not a new information as claimed.

(Source: Serum Institute /screenshot)

  • Apart from this, these inputs have been out there in the public domain since 2021 via research papers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

  • CDC shared how TTS has been rarely noticed after COVID-19 vaccination.

  • It specified that this occurred in "approximately four cases per one million doses administered."

This was shared by CDC about how TTS has been rarely noticed after COVID-19 vaccination.

(Source: CDC /screenshot)

WHO also corroborated this information in 2021 by specifying that cases of TTS have been reported after vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines, Vaxzevria and Covishield.

This information by WHO was published in 2021.

(Source: WHO /screenshot)

  • On 8 April 2021, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) carried a graphic that explained the risk of COVID-19 vaccines against other risky matters.

  • It showed that serious risks due to the vaccine's side-effects to a 25 year old has as low chance as 11 in a million whereas the same person dying in a car accident is 38 in a million.

Comparison drawn by BBC for AstraZeneca vaccine's side-effects.

(Source: BBC/Screenshot)

We reached out to AstraZeneca: WebQoof team received a reply from the pharma company via mail where they said, "Our sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones or reported health problems. Patient safety is our highest priority and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines."

AstraZeneca also added, "From the body of evidence in clinical trials and real-world data, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has continuously been shown to have an acceptable safety profile and regulators around the world consistently state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects.”

We have also reached out to Serum Institute of India for a comment and will update the copy once we hear back from them.

Conclusion: Clearly, the rare side effects of the vaccine is NOT new information as shared by many.

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