First dose ChAdOx1 and BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccinations and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis: A pooled self-controlled case series study of 11.6 million individuals in England, Scotland, and Wales

Steven Kerr*, Mark Joy, Fatemeh Torabi, Stuart Bedston, Ashley Akbari, Utkarsh Agrawal, Jillian Beggs, Declan Bradley, Antony Chuter, Annemarie B. Docherty, David Ford, Richard Hobbs, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Emily Lowthian, Simon de Lusignan, Ronan Lyons, James Marple, Colin McCowan, Dylan McGagh, Jim McMenaminEmily Moore, Josephine L.K. Murray, Rhiannon K. Owen, Jiafeng Pan, Lewis Ritchie, Syed Ahmar Shah, Ting Shi, Sarah Stock, Ruby S.M. Tsang, Eleftheria Vasileiou, Mark Woolhouse, Colin R. Simpson, Chris Robertson, Aziz Sheikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
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Background AU Several: Pleaseconfirmthatallheadinglevelsarerepresentedcorrectly countries restricted the administration of ChAdOx1 :to older age groups in 2021 over safety concerns following case reports and observed versus expected analyses suggesting a possible association with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). Large datasets are required to precisely estimate the association between Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CAU OVID-: Pleasenoteth 19) vaccination and CVST due to the extreme rarity of this event. We aimed to accomplish this by combining national data from England, Scotland, and Wales. Methods and findings We created data platforms consisting of linked primary care, secondary care, mortality, and virological testing data in each of England, Scotland, and Wales, with a combined cohort of 11,637,157 people and 6,808,293 person years of follow-up. The cohort start date was December 8, 2020, and the end date was June 30, 2021. The outcome measure we examined was incident CVST events recorded in either primary or secondary care records. We carried out a self-controlled case series (SCCS) analysis of this outcome following first dose vaccination with ChAdOx1 and BNT162b2. The observation period consisted of an initial 90-day reference period, followed by a 2-week prerisk period directly prior to vaccination, and a 4-week risk period following vaccination. Counts of CVST cases from each country were tallied, then expanded into a full dataset with 1 row for each individual and observation time period. There was a combined total of 201 incident CVST events in the cohorts (29.5 per million person years). There were 81 CVST events in the observation period among those who a received first dose of ChAdOx1 (approximately 16.34 per million doses) and 40 for those who received a first dose of BNT162b2 (approximately 12.60 per million doses). We fitted conditional Poisson models to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs). Vaccination with ChAdOx1 was associated with an elevated risk of incident CVST events in the 28 days following vaccination, IRR = 1.93 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20 to 3.11). We did not find an association between BNT162b2 and CVST in the 28 days following vaccination, IRR = 0.78 (95% CI 0.34 to 1.77). Our study had some limitations. The SCCS study design implicitly controls for variables that are constant over the observation period, but also assumes that outcome events are independent of exposure. This assumption may not be satisfied in the case of CVST, firstly because it is a serious adverse event, and secondly because the vaccination programme in the United Kingdom prioritised the clinically extremely vulnerable and those with underlying health conditions, which may have caused a selection effect for individuals more prone to CVST. Although we pooled data from several large datasets, there was still a low number of events, which may have caused imprecision in our estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003927
JournalPLoS Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

This research is part of the Data and Connectivity National Core Study, led by Health Data Research UK in partnership with the Office for National Statistics and funded by UK Research and Innovation (grant ref MC_PC_20029, AS). EAVE II is funded by the Medical Research Council ( (UKRI MC_PC 19075, AS) with the support of BREATHE, The Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health (MC_PC_19004, AS), which is funded through the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and delivered through Health Data Research UK. This work was supported by the Con-COV team funded by the Medical Research Council (grant number: MR/V028367/1, RL). This work was supported by Health Data Research UK, which receives its funding from HDR UK Ltd (HDR-9006, RL) funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Department of Health and Social Care (England), Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Wellcome Trust. This work was supported by the ADR Wales programme of work ( The ADR Wales programme of work is aligned to the priority themes as identified in the Welsh Government’s national strategy: Prosperity for All. ADR Wales brings together data science experts at Swansea University Medical School, staff from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) at Cardiff University and specialist teams within the Welsh Government to develop new evidence which supports Prosperity for All by using the SAIL Databank at Swansea University, to link and analyse anonymised data. ADR Wales is part of the Economic and Social Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation) funded ADR UK (grant ES/S007393/1, RL). SVK acknowledges funding from NHS Research Scotland Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCAF/15/02, SVK), the MRC (MC_UU_00022/2, SVK), and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU17, SVK). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Data Availability Statement

The data used in this study cannot be shared publicly because they are based on de-identified national clinical records. The English data is stored in the ORCHID TRE. Access to data can be requested via The Scottish data is stored in the Public Health Scotland TRE. To access these individual-level, confidential healthcare data, researchers will need to apply to HSC-PBPP ( The Welsh data are available in the SAIL Databank at Swansea University, Swansea, UK. All proposals to use SAIL data are subject to review by an independent Information Governance Review Panel (IGRP). Before any data can be accessed, approval must be given by the IGRP. The IGRP gives careful consideration to each project to ensure proper and appropriate use of SAIL data. When access has been granted, it is gained through a privacy protecting safe haven and remote access system referred to as the SAIL Gateway. SAIL has established an application process to be followed by anyone who would like to access data via SAIL at


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