Ontario reports 1st death of rare blood clots linked to AstraZeneca

Ontario moving ahead with 2nd doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
A health-care worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press)

Ontario has reported its first death of a person who developed rare blood clots after receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Quebec confirms 1st death related to rare AstraZeneca-linked blood clots, emphasizes benefits outweigh risks

The death was one of 41 deaths linked to COVID-19 reported on Tuesday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, said the person who died was a man in his 40s who had received his first dose. He was confirmed to have a rare but serious condition called vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Yaffe said the province has seen 16 cases of serious blood clots known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic syndrome (TTS) linked to the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine.

Thirteen of those cases meet the criteria for VITT.

The province also confirmed another 2,485 cases of COVID-19 over the last two days.

Because of the Victoria Day long weekend, the province provided two days worth of data Tuesday morning.

The new cases break down to 1,446 on Sunday and 1,039 on Monday.

As expected, overall testing levels were quite low through the holiday weekend, with just over 37,000 total tests completed in the same two-day period. That said, positivity rates continued on a downward trend, suggesting that even with less testing, there are indeed fewer new cases occurring in the province compared to recent weeks.

The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 1,693, its lowest point in more than eight weeks.

There are currently about 19,026 active COVID-19 infections provincewide, the fewest since March 29.

As of Monday evening, there were 692 people being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units. Of those, 498, or about 72 per cent, required a ventilator to breathe.

The additional deaths pushed the official toll to 8,655.

Public health units collectively administered 186,035 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the same timeframe. A total of 8,251,642 shots have been given out so far and about 64.3 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over have had at least one dose.

In Toronto, nearly two million shots have been administered to date, with the city saying more than 65 per cent of eligible adults have recived at least one dose.

Meanwhile, Ontarians who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in mid-March will be able to book their second shot this week as the province seeks to use up its stockpile before it expires.

Those who received a first shot from March 10 to March 19 are being prioritized for a second. Those dates encompass a pilot project that saw the AstraZeneca vaccine administered through pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor, as well as through some primary care providers.

Though the recommended interval between shots is at least 12 weeks, the second injection is being offered to that group after 10 weeks in order to make use of 45,000 doses set to expire in roughly a week. Another 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca are due to expire next month.

Ontario currently has more than 300,000 doses in stock after a significant shipment arrived last week.

The province has said those who got their first dose of AstraZeneca after March 19 will be able to book their second in the near future, but no additional details have been provided so far.

AstraZeneca has been linked to rare, potentially fatal blood clots that are thought to occur at a rate of one in every 55,000 or so doses on the first shot, and one in 600,000 doses for the second.

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