Matt Hancock has joined chief scientist in trying to gain public trust in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after regulators highlighted a one in a million chance of dying from a rare blood clot.

The Health Secretary has urged everyone to take up the chance of a vaccine jab when they are invited to do so.

Mr Hancock said the chance of experiencing a rare brain blood clot was the same as “taking a long-haul flight”.

On Wednesday, the UK’s vaccine advisory body said under-30s will be offered an alternative jab to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A review by the MHRA found that by the end of last month, 79 people in the UK has suffered from blood clots following vaccination, with 19 of those people dying.

The regulator stressed that this was not proof that the jab was the cause of the clots but conceded that the link was getting stronger.

The committee concluded that the benefits of the jab outweigh the risks, but as people under 30 are at less risk of coronavirus they should be offered an alternative jab.

Matt Hancock urged the under-30s, who will be offered an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca, to take a jab to protect loved ones and avoid the risk of long Covid, adding there were plentiful supplies of Moderna and Pfizer for this age range.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Mr Hancock said the vaccines were saving “thousands of lives”.

He told Sky News: “The number of people dying from Covid halved in the last nine days… and is down 90% from the peak.”

All vaccines in use in the UK were “safe for all ages”, but the “extremely rare” risk of suffering a rare brain blood clot, and the tipping of the balance of risk for the under-30s, means they could be given other jabs instead.

Speaking directly to younger people who may be thinking they do not need a vaccine, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.

“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.”

He added: “The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million (the chance of developing a rare brain blood clot) – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”

Mr Hancock said there were almost 10.2 million people aged 18 to 29 in the UK, of whom 1.6 million have had their first vaccine.