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Population-based studies can provide important evidence on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Here we compare rates of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia following vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 with the background (expected) rates in the general population. In addition, we compare the rates of the same adverse events among persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 with background rates. Primary care and linked hospital data from Catalonia, Spain informed the study, with participants vaccinated with BNT162b2 or ChAdOx1 (27/12/2020-23/06/2021), COVID-19 cases (01/09/2020-23/06/2021) or present in the database as of 01/01/2017. We included 2,021,366 BNT162b2 (1,327,031 with 2 doses), 592,408 ChAdOx1, 174,556 COVID-19 cases, and 4,573,494 background participants. Standardised incidence ratios for venous thromboembolism were 1.18 (95% CI 1.06-1.32) and 0.92 (0.81-1.05) after first- and second dose BNT162b2, and 0.92 (0.71-1.18) after first dose ChAdOx1. The standardised incidence ratio for venous thromboembolism in COVID-19 was 10.19 (9.43-11.02). Standardised incidence ratios for arterial thromboembolism were 1.02 (0.95-1.09) and 1.04 (0.97-1.12) after first- and second dose BNT162b2, 1.06 (0.91-1.23) after first-dose ChAdOx1 and 4.13 (3.83-4.45) for COVID-19. Standardised incidence ratios for thrombocytopenia were 1.49 (1.43-1.54) and 1.40 (1.35-1.45) after first- and second dose BNT162b2, 1.28 (1.19-1.38) after first-dose ChAdOx1 and 4.59 (4.41- 4.77) for COVID-19. While rates of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia were generally similar to background rates, the standardised incidence ratio for pulmonary embolism with thrombocytopenia after first-dose BNT162b2 was 1.70 (1.11-2.61). These findings suggest that the safety profiles of BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 are similar, with rates of adverse events seen after vaccination typically similar to background rates. Meanwhile, rates of adverse events are much increased for COVID-19 cases further underlining the importance of vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Fundació Institut Universitari per a la recerca a l'Atenció Primària de Salut Jordi Gol i Gurina (IDIAPJGol), Barcelona, Spain.