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ZURICH (Reuters) – A scientist investigating rare blood clots possibly linked to AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines has yet to start a planned collaboration with the U.S. company, he said, as talks over their research pact continue.
Dr. Andreas Greinacher, a transfusion medicine expert at Germany’s Greifswald University, has been studying clotting with low blood platelets in people who got AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
In April, when clotting developed in a few people who got J&J’s shot, oral naltrexone brand name Greinacher announced his lab would work with the U.S. company to explore causes. J&J, whose shot relies on technology similar to AstraZeneca’s, confirmed it was “exploring a potential collaboration”.
International drug regulators have added warning labels, while saying both vaccines’ benefits outweigh extremely rare clotting risks. Some countries are not using the shots, while others have restricted them to older people.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Greinacher said scientists at his lab at Greifswald, as well from J&J, are eager to get started, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the clotting, though lawyers from both sides are still working out details, like non-disclosure agreements.
“Their job obviously seems to take longer than the work of the scientists,” Greinacher said. “It’s a painful undertaking, to get all of the necessary paperwork done.”
J&J did not immediately comment.
Greinacher’s conclusions so far about clots in people who got AstraZeneca’s vaccine have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine and are among several theories seeking to explain the side effect.
He suggests a strong post-vaccination inflammatory reaction and subsequent generation of powerful platelet-activating antibodies is likely driving Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia, or VITT.
Greinacher has not found similar issues in people who got COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech.
Greinacher said he has acquired samples of J&J’s vaccine, having received left-overs following its deployment in Europe.
His team is analyzing J&J’s vaccine components and hopes to have a comparison with AstraZeneca’s vaccine in a week, he said.
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