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ASU researchers may have found cause of blood clots after AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

Posted at 4:36 PM, Dec 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-04 18:36:55-05

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Scientists from Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale may have found the cause of blood clots in people who received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.

According to the study, the problem may stem from the vaccine's use of a different, harmless virus.

Researchers said that in "very rare cases" the viral vector may enter the bloodstream and binds to a protein called platelet 4 or PF4.

In those rare instances, scientists said the protein is then attacked by antibodies and that can cause the blood to clot.

"So what we showed in this paper is that adenoviruses which is the shell of the virus is able to form an interaction with another protein which naturally exists in human blood called platelet factor 4," said Dr. Alexander Baker.

“It’s really critical to fully investigate the vector-host interactions of the vaccine at a mechanistic level,” said Dr. Abhishek Singharoy, a scientist at ASU.

“This will assist in understanding both how the vaccine generates immunity, and how it may lead to any rare adverse events, such as [vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia]," he added.

Experts said the chances of someone getting a blood clot from the vaccine are one in 250,000 and the chances of dying from that blood clot are one in a million.

Even though the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved in the U.S., some patients have reported having similar issues with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Still, experts said getting the COVID vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the disease and that the benefits of the shot outweigh any known side effects.

Other ASU scientists included several from the School of Molecular Sciences and Biodesign Institute: Ryan J. Boyd, Daipayan Sarkar, John Vant, Eric Wilson, Chloe D. Truong, Petra Fromme, Po-Lin Chiu, Dewight Williams and Josh Vermaas (an ASU alumnus now at Michigan State University). Mitesh Borad and Bolni M. Nagalo.