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INTRODUCTION: Vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) has been identified as a rare but serious adverse event associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. OBJECTIVES: In this study, we explored the pre-pandemic co-occurrence of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TWT) using 17 observational health data sources across the world. We applied multiple TWT definitions, estimated the background rate of TWT, characterized TWT patients, and explored the makeup of thrombosis types among TWT patients. METHODS: We conducted an international network retrospective cohort study using electronic health records and insurance claims data, estimating background rates of TWT amongst persons observed from 2017 to 2019. Following the principles of existing VITT clinical definitions, TWT was defined as patients with a diagnosis of embolic or thrombotic arterial or venous events and a diagnosis or measurement of thrombocytopenia within 7 days. Six TWT phenotypes were considered, which varied in the approach taken in defining thrombosis and thrombocytopenia in real world data. RESULTS: Overall TWT incidence rates ranged from 1.62 to 150.65 per 100,000 person-years. Substantial heterogeneity exists across data sources and by age, sex, and alternative TWT phenotypes. TWT patients were likely to be men of older age with various comorbidities. Among the thrombosis types, arterial thrombotic events were the most common. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that identifying VITT in observational data presents a substantial challenge, as implementing VITT case definitions based on the co-occurrence of TWT results in large and heterogeneous incidence rate and in a cohort of patints with baseline characteristics that are inconsistent with the VITT cases reported to date.

Original publication




Journal article


Drug saf

Publication Date





685 - 698


Algorithms, COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, Cohort Studies, Humans, Phenotype, Retrospective Studies, Thrombocytopenia, Thrombosis