Researchers close in on cause of vax-related blood clots

July 7, 2021

A group of scientists in Canada have uncovered a potential cause of COVID-19 vaccination-related blood clots. 

According to recently released and peer-reviewed research published in Nature, the team has zeroed in on the presence of eight surface amino acids that could be linked to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), the rare side effect that has been observed in some patients who took the AstraZeneca and J&J shots.

Officials in the EU have linked about 479 potential cases of VITT to 51.4 million administered doses of the AstraZeneca shot, and 21 linked to about 7 million J&J shots. Of those EU patients, about 100 patients died. All told, global health officials have linked about 170 deaths to vaccinations in the EU, UK, and U.S., and many of the patients had previously been healthy young adults. 

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the researchers said that in the rare cases of VITT, antibodies from the vaccines cling with unusual force to platelet factor 4 (PF4) and in particular, a handful of amino acids associated with PF4. From there, clusters form, triggering a cascade of both bleeding and clotting.

The new findings could help doctors more rapidly detect and treat cases of VITT in vaccinated adults.