Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS) Covishield’s Rare Side Effect

Understanding Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS) Covishield’s Rare Side Effect

Jul 01, 2024 3 min read
Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome

In recent times, concerns have arisen regarding the potential side effect of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS) associated with the Covishield vaccine. This rare but serious adverse effect has sparked fear and misinformation, leading many to question the safety of the vaccine. However, it's crucial to understand the facts surrounding TTS and the Covishield vaccine to make informed decisions. Let's delve deeper into this issue.

What is Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS)?

Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS) is characterised by the development of blood clots in combination with low platelet counts. Platelets are essential for blood clotting, and a decrease in their numbers can lead to excessive bleeding or clotting disorders. In the case of TTS, blood clots often form in unusual locations, such as the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) or the abdomen.

Connection with COVID-19 Vaccines

TTS has been linked to adenovirus vector vaccines, including Covishield and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine. These vaccines use a harmless adenovirus to deliver genetic material into cells, triggering an immune response against the coronavirus. However, in rare cases, this immune response can lead to the production of antibodies that activate platelets, causing them to form dangerous clots.

Understanding the Risk

While it's essential to acknowledge the potential risk associated with TTS, it's equally crucial to put it into perspective. AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of Covishield, has acknowledged the rare possibility of TTS. However, the incidence of TTS is exceptionally low. According to data from the UK and India, the risk is approximately 1 in 2,50,000 and 7 in 10 lakh people, respectively.

Understanding the Rare Side Effects

It's essential to recognise that all vaccines, including common flu vaccines, can have rare but serious side effects. However, the keyword here is "rare." Serious adverse effects, including TTS, typically occur within six weeks of receiving the vaccine. Given that most individuals received the Covishield vaccine in 2021-22, the likelihood of experiencing TTS at this stage is minimal.

Expert Insights and Reassurance

Haematologists and experts emphasise that individuals most at risk of TTS are typically those who are bedridden, hospitalised, or have underlying medical conditions related to inflammation, infection, or cancer. For the majority of the population, the risk of experiencing TTS is incredibly low.

Recognising Symptoms and Seeking Medical Attention

While it's essential to be aware of potential symptoms of TTS, it's equally crucial not to succumb to fear mongering. If you experience any concerning symptoms, seek medical attention promptly. However, it's essential to remember that such cases are exceptionally rare.

Symptoms of TTS affecting the brain include:

  • Severe, persistent headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures or confusion

Symptoms of TTS affecting the rest of the body included:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Tiny blood spots under the skin, away from the site of injection

Diagnostic Approaches

Medical professionals utilise a combination of blood tests and imaging scans, including CT scans, to diagnose TTS accurately. These diagnostic tools help assess platelet counts, detect the presence of blood clots, and evaluate any potential damage or abnormalities in affected organs.

Treatment Strategies

Once diagnosed, treatment for TTS typically involves a multidisciplinary approach aimed at addressing the underlying causes and managing symptoms effectively. The following interventions are commonly employed:

  • Anticoagulant (Anti-clotting) Medicines
  • Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG)
  • High Dose Prednisone

Final Words

In conclusion, understanding the facts surrounding TTS and the Covishield vaccine is crucial for making informed decisions. While the risk of TTS exists, it is exceedingly rare, and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the potential risks. It's essential to rely on credible sources of information and consult healthcare professionals for guidance. By doing so, we can combat misinformation and work towards a safer, healthier future for all.

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Dr. Indu K
Dr. Indu K
about the author

Dr. Indu K is a dentist with one year of clinical experience. She seamlessly transitioned into content writing three years ago. Her passion lies in making complex medical information accessible to everyone. She uses her unique blend of medical knowledge and exceptional writing skills to bridge the gap between healthcare and the general audience.