(Global News) – Quebec has announced its first death linked to a blood clot after a woman in her 50s received Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials said on Tuesday that the victim was 54. The woman’s death linked to a cerebral blood clot — which public health assured is extremely rare, a 1 out of 100,000 chance — is Canada’s first death linked to a vaccination.
There is a much higher risk — up to ten times more likely — of brain blood clots (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) from COVID-19 infection than there is from vaccines against the disease, researchers say.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province is currently investigating four cases of serious complications out of some 400,000 people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Currently the province is offering the vaccine to people between the ages of 45 and 79, and Quebec said there are no plans to change that strategy.
Health officials have highlighted that COVID-19 is associated with more common clotting disorders than cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), such as strokes, and that recent debate around vaccines has lost sight of how bad the disease itself could be.
Blood clotting can also occur as a side effect to other common medications, such as birth control and hormone replacement therapy, during pregnancy, from long trips, after an injury or post-surgery and due to smoking.
The risks of clotting are higher in each of these cases than from the COVID-19 vaccines themselves, experts say, stressing that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
Premier François Legault said the situation has improved enough to allow primary schools to reopen next week in Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region.
The province also announced that the 8 p.m. curfew in Montreal and Laval will be pushed to 9:30 p.m. as of next Monday, May 3.
Legault said further easing of restrictions will be done gradually to avoid a resurgence in cases.
Quebec is reporting 899 new cases — fewer than 1,000 cases for the second day in a row — and 14 additional deaths Tuesday linked to the third wave of the COVID-19 crisis.
Three of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours while 11 Quebecers died between April 20 and 25.
The case count stands at 346,596 while the number of recoveries has now surpassed 325,000. There were 889 new cases on Monday.
The death toll has reached 10,898, but health authorities say two deaths that were previously attributed to the novel coronavirus were withdrawn following an investigation.