The real risk of AstraZeneca’s vaccine

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Good afternoon,

A follow-up on a column earlier this week on AstraZeneca’s two-dose vaccine and its clouded future.

Around here, there is more than routine interest in the vaccine since northern Delaware is the home of a U.S. headquarters for the UK pharma giant.

In addition to research slip-ups and shipping disputes within the European Union, we now know the two-dose vaccine has been tied to rare cases of fatal blood clots. Unfortunately, the mass media seems to have trouble describing the degree of risk and goes with the sensational headline.

I had to look through several stories to come up with an answer. It turns out that the BBC put things into context with the following – If 10 million imaginary people were given the AZ vaccine, you might expect to see 40 of these clots – with about ten clots having fatal consequences.”

By limiting its use to groups (people under 30 have been advised to get another vaccine), the odds are further cut.

For additional context, check out the risks of everyday activities from the National Safety Council. For a deeper dive into vaccine risks, check out a piece from the National Institutes of Health.

Why wasn’t the clotting detected earlier? The BBC says it comes down to numbers since cases are unlikely to show up in a trial with tens of thousands of participants than the 25 million in the UK who have received the vaccine.

This episode justifies the caution of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is poised to receive results of U.S. studies of the drug and give a yes or no on emergency use

The worry is that in a world where social media and those with ill intent can vastly exaggerate risks, people will hesitate to get the vaccine.

Without the AstraZeneca vaccine, efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the world will be delayed, and economic damage could be even longer-lasting.

The AZ vaccine costs a fraction of Moderna and Pfizer doses and can be produced in vast quantities. Like its cousin from Johnson & Johnson, it only needs refrigeration rather than a deep freeze.

The J&J vaccine will be closely watched since it shares the07 biotech framework of AstraZeneca doses. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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