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Sciences

After Blood Clot Death, Cyprus Sets AstraZeneca Age Restrictions

NICOSIA — The death of a 39-year-old British model from a reported brain hemorrhage a few weeks after she got a first shot of the United Kingdom's AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Cyprus has led to age limits being set for the shots.

Cyprus recommended people under 50 should get messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines, joining other countries like France who have set age restrictions for the AstraZeneca shot, said the news agency Reuters.

The mRNA vaccines are those from the US-German team of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, adjacent to Boston. 

AstraZeneca based on the virus' genetic instructions for building a spike protein but unlike mRNA which stores the instructions in single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid), the Oxford vaccine uses double-stranded DNA deoxyribonucleic acid).

Cyprus previously no age restrictions for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it has been using since January but made the change after the death of Stephanie Dubois, who had posted social media messages about the reaction to the shot.

The Health Ministry said it had referred the case to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which had cleared use of the AZ vaccine after reports of a small number of rare blood clots and deaths.

People who've already gotten the first of two required shots of the AZ vaccine were advised to get the second unless they had suffered serious side effects from the first, especially  thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, the ministry said in a statement, citing the "unanimous view" of scientific advisors.

A majority of those, it said, suggested that mRNA vaccines, technology used in the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, be recommended for the under 50s after authorities had defended the decision to go ahead with AZ.

Cyprus had ordered more AZ vaccines and it was the only option available to thousands of people who were trying to book appointments on a state platform registration system, unlike in Greece where many had shunned AstraZeneca.

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NICOSIA -- The second-leading cause of death on Cyprus is stroke, with 600-100 cases a year, the association overseeing the illness said, recommending people be aware of the warning signs.

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