COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry says there's a test for vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocypotenia (a.k.a. VITT)

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      COVID-19 vaccinations appear to be playing a role in stemming the rise of new cases in B.C.

      But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also noted that in rare cases, the AstraZeneca vaccine can stimulate an antibody response against platelets in the blood. Platelets are tiny blood cells that form clots to halt bleeding.

      "This causes a  type of clotting that is different than other types of blood clots that people may have had—or strokes or other types of clotting disorders that people may have," Henry told reporters in her May 13 briefing. "So it is a very challenging one to treat but there is a test for it and there is treatment."

      She said that anyone showing symptoms from four to 28 days after being vaccinated with an AstraZeneca shot should immediately call 8-1-1 or connect with a health-care provider.

      Those symptoms include persistent severe headache, shortness of breath, ongoing chest pain or abdominal pain, and swelling or redness in the limb.

      Henry made the comments in the wake of a second case of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a.k.a. VITT, in B.C. following the administration of an AstraZeneca vaccination.

      A male in his 40s is in stable condition and receiving care in the Fraser health region.

      "Recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment early is important," Henry emphasized. "This is a condition that we're learning more and more about since the safety signal was first detected."

      B.C., along with several other provinces, has stopped giving the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first shot.

      On May 13, there were another 587 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 137,810. Of those, 5,691 are considered to be active.

      Of the new cases, 62 percent were in the Fraser health region and another 21.5 percent were in Vancouver Coastal Health.

      More than 2.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered, including 119,691 second doses.

      Sadly, five more British Columbians died from COVID-19, which means that there have been 1,632 fatalities from the disease. That exceeds the full capacity of passengers on five Boeing 777 wide-body airplanes.

      There are three ongoing outbreaks on assisted-living and long-term care homes and two in acute care.

      The number of hospitalizations continues falling in B.C., dipping to 413 from 423 on the previous day. The number of people in intensive care remained the same at 141.

      Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that hospitalizations are down by 98 from the peak recorded last month.

      "But that is still way too high," he added, "141 in critical care—way too high. And the greatest gesture in respect to those awaiting surgery, for example, is to get vaccinated. If we are not registered, we must register now. And if we're invited to book our shot, we must book right away."

      Dix said that nonurgent elective surgeries continue to be delayed in some hospitals. From May 3 to 9, there were 664 such postponements, including 305 in Fraser Health, 314 in Vancouver Coastal Health, and 45 in Island Health.

      "Each of those patients will be contacted to rebook their surgery once the pressure on our hospitals decreases," Dix pledged.