A healthcare employee prepares a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 dose at Coria Metropolis Hospital, Spain.
Gustavo Valiente | SOPA Photos | LightRocket by way of Getty Photos
LONDON — Well being consultants say they’re disillusioned and confused by the flurry of suspensions of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the College of Oxford, warning there may be not but sufficient information to justify these selections.
Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday joined a fast-growing listing of European nations suspending the usage of the vaccine as a precautionary measure following reviews of blood clots. Germany, France, Italy and Spain on Monday mentioned they might all cease administering the shot.
Different nations, resembling Austria, have briefly paused the usage of sure batches of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Thailand on Friday turned the primary Asian nation to halt the usage of the shot over security considerations.
The U.Ok., Canada and Australia — that are persevering with to deploy the vaccine — are amongst a number of the nations searching for to reassure residents about its advantages.
The World Well being Group, Europe’s drug regulator and the Worldwide Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis have all really helpful that nations proceed to make use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The choices by France, Germany and different nations look baffling,” mentioned Dr. Michael Head, senior analysis fellow in World Well being on the College of Southampton, U.Ok.
“The information now we have means that numbers of hostile occasions associated to blood clots are the identical (and presumably, actually decrease) in vaccinated teams in comparison with unvaccinated populations,” he continued.
“Halting a vaccine roll out throughout a pandemic has penalties. This ends in delays in defending folks, and the potential for elevated vaccine hesitancy, because of individuals who have seen the headlines and understandably develop into involved. There aren’t any indicators but of any information that basically justify these selections,” Head added.
Consultants at WHO will meet on Tuesday to evaluate the protection of the shot.
The European Medicines Company, which can also be evaluating the protection of the drug, has mentioned there is no such thing as a indication that it’s inflicting blood clots, including that it believes the vaccine’s advantages “proceed to outweigh its dangers.”
What has AstraZeneca mentioned?
Greater than 17 million folks within the European Union and the U.Ok. have obtained a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, with fewer than 40 circumstances of blood clots reported as of final week, AstraZeneca said in a statement.
The pharmaceutical giant said that across the EU and U.K. there had been 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those vaccinated.
“This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines,” AstraZeneca said.
The EMA has also said that the data available so far showed that the number of blood clots in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen among the general population.
A bottle of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Igor Petyx | KONTROLAB | LightRocket via Getty Images
Europe’s caution about the drug has compounded the woes of the region’s ailing vaccination campaign and comes at a time when Germany’s public health agency has warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections has already begun.
Dr. Stephen Griffin associate professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said the news that many countries in Europe had suspended the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was “disappointing.”
“Since many European countries are currently experiencing another resurgence of SARS-CoV2 infections and yet are lagging behind in terms of roll out, the importance of continuing the vaccination programmes cannot be underestimated, and the harm caused by depriving people of access to a vaccine will likely vastly outweigh even the worst case scenario if any link to the clotting disorders is eventually found,” Griffin said.
“It should also be noted that nationwide gestures such as this are bound to fuel hesitancy, or more extreme anti-vaccine sentiment, further undermining the vaccination effort,” he added.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a shot designed to prevent the coronavirus in people aged 18 and older. It is made up of an adenovirus that has been modified to contain the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. As such, the vaccine does not contain the virus and cannot cause Covid.
The most common side effects of the shot are typically mild or moderate and improve within a few days of vaccination.
Late-stage clinical trials found the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot to have an average efficacy of 70% in protecting against the virus.
“We are closely reviewing reports but the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause,” said Dr. Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead at the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
“Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the AZ vaccine have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population,” he continued.
“We are working closely with international counterparts in understanding the global safety experience of COVID-19 vaccines and on the rapid sharing of safety data and reports. People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so,” Bryan said.