THE Oxford vaccine chief has warned that “this is not the time to waver” over rare blood clots as coronavirus cases rise in Europe.

Under-30s will now be offered an alternative jab to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after regulators pointed to a one in a million chance of dying from a rare blood clot.

However, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Prof Andrew Pollard, wants the public to put its “confidence in the hands of the system.”

He insisted the risks of rare blood clots were not as high as the risk posed by catching the virus and added: “The pandemic continues to be a huge threat to people throughout the world, and we continue with our mission to support global vaccination, not for profit, for the benefit of humanity.”

So how safe really is the jab - and should we still take it? Your questions answered...

Prof Pollard's comments came as Matt Hancock and chief scientists attempted to maintain public confidence in the Oxford vaccine overs fears of blood clots.

The Health Secretary said everyone should take a vaccine when their time comes, and insisted the risk of experiencing a brain clot was the same as taking a long-haul flight.

Both the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the EU’s European Medicines Agency have reached the reassuring conclusion that even though there was a possible link from these very rare blood clots to the vaccine, the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks in all age groups.

Prof Pollard added: “Safety has been our priority throughout the development of the vaccine at Oxford University in 2020, and we are reassured to see that safety monitoring continues under the close scrutiny of regulators and public health authorities as the vaccine is rolled out around the world.

“The identification or rare cases of blood clots, which might be associated with the vaccine, shows that the safety system works, and has also allowed MHRA and EMA to conclude that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks, while putting in measures to help mitigate any possible risk."

His appeal to people to continue receiving their jabs was backed by Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.

She said: “If I’m offered the AstraZeneca vaccine I will take it.

"I trust the judgement of the MHRA on this and it is right that they have shared their analysis and thinking with us.

"That gives me trust in them. So if they say that for my age group and profile the AstraZeneca jab is okay, then I will take it.

“It is so important that people continue to get their jab when invited to do so.”

Anneliese Dodds the Labour MP for Oxford East said: "The reality is that people are more likely to get serious blood clots by catching this horrific virus and suffering the consequences of it. 

"So, if you are asked to be vaccinated, please do go- it saves lives."

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that if you are under 30 and have already had your first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine you should continue to be offered and take the second dose of the same vaccine.

Read also: Under 30s to be offered alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

Experts have highlighted that the risks of getting a blood clot from the vaccine is much lower than risks from other medication or during pregnancy.

Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of JCVI, said: “These are extremely rare events – much, much more rare than, for instance, clots due to common drugs that we prescribe such as the contraceptive pill – much rarer than clots during pregnancy; much, much rarer than clots due to Covid itself.”

Data from JCVI shows the risk of potential serious harm for the age bracket of 20 to 29-year-olds from the vaccine is only 1.1 per 100,000 people.

However, the vaccine has prevented 6.9 per100,000 people from ICU admissions in the same age bracket.

Prof Jeremy Brown, a member of JCVI, said that the benefit of vaccinating young people was not just preventing severe disease but also allowing younger people to see their relatives and it has social benefits.

Read also: Young people are the most lonely in pandemic

The MHRA said the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. Up to March 31, it received 79 reports of blood clots accompanied by low blood platelet count, all in people who had their first dose of the vaccine, out of around 20 million doses given. Of these 79, a total of 19 people have died, with three under the age of 30.