Quebec public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda has confirmed the death of a Quebec woman after she received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in early April.
Arruda said tests at the McMaster University laboratory in Hamilton studying blood clots related to COVID-19 vaccines detected the antibodies that caused the platelet problem which led to the patient’s death.
“It is very sad. I want to offer my sincerest condolences to the family,” Arruda said.
He said 400,000 Quebecers have so far received the vaccine and that the woman’s death is within the vaccine’s average risk, which is that serious complications arise in one in every 100,000 people vaccinated.
But Arruda said it’s important to weigh the risk of vaccination against the much higher risk of serious complications with COVID-19.
“It’s still clear that this virus kills. It’s still clear this virus will make you sick and that vaccines will protect you. But sometimes, unfortunately, there are complications,” Arruda said.
“It is very rare. We knew there was a possibility that it could happen.”
Arruda said it was the first death in Canada related to the vaccine that he is aware of.
Health Minister Christian Dubé also offered his condolences.
“We have vaccinated 400,000 people with AstraZeneca, but that is 400,000 people who have less chances of getting COVID,” Dubé said. “We made the decision to put an age limit to the vaccine: 45 years old. It is unfortunately a risk we have to take.”
Dubé said three other blood clots cases are under investigation, including one in recovery and two other cases of thrombosis not confirmed to have been caused by the vaccine.
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has said it is looking into the death of a patient who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.