More on why countries are pausing the AstraZeneca vaccine

The European Medicines Agency has reviewed its data on the AstraZeneca vaccine and reports that it finds no higher risk of blood clots but also says it will keep on studying the possibility that the vaccine has caused them. Thirteen countries in the European Union have suspended their use of the vaccine at a time when vaccine supplies are already short. Or maybe that’s twenty countries. I’ve seen both numbers and don’t much care. Take your choice.

The however-many countries haven’t gone off the deep end, even if at some point it becomes clear that they’ve made the wrong decision. At least thirteen people have developed a rare set of symptoms involving widespread blood clots, low platelet counts, and internal bleeding. These aren’t typical strokes or blood clots, and the people are between twenty and fifty years old and previously healthy. 

Seven of them have died. 

Steinar Madsen, the medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said, “Our leading hematologist said he had never seen anything quite like it.” 

On the other hand, Britain has had no clusters of unusual bleeding or clotting problems, in spite of having used 10 million doses of the vaccine by now–more than any other country. 

The question of how to read the evidence and what to do in response seems to have divided the public health experts from the medical people. On one side is the argument that Covid is the statistically greater risk, so keep vaccinating. On the other side is the argument that we don’t know what’s going on here and until we do we need to stop. Neither side is either crazy or irresponsible. It’s a question of emphasis and professional orientation. 

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Update: Four countries have announced that they’ll be resuming AstraZeneca’s use.

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My thanks to Sabine for sending me a link explaining the reasoning behind halting the use of AstraZeneca. 

36 thoughts on “More on why countries are pausing the AstraZeneca vaccine

  1. Ellen, it’s hard to keep up with all the vaccine news. When it settles down, I’ll get one of the vaccines, preferably Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson (not available here yet). So far, some family members in other states got the virus with mild symptoms, more like the flu. Hope you are staying safe & healthy. 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Christine. My partner and I are half vaccinated (my, AZ, her Pfizer), so we have at least some immunity now. I’m immensely relieved. I’m glad your relatives got nothing worse than mild symptoms. May the vaccine–whichever one–reach you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your update. Looks as if the UK’s medicines regulator assured that the AZ vaccine is safe with no evidence to suggest it causes blood clots. Good you are one shot half safe at this point. The Pfizer one seems to be safe. Any real problems with COVID virus or the side effects of the vaccines are mostly with medically compromised people. Also our CDC states that a person who is vaccinated against COVID can still be infected with or carry the virus that causes it while not feeling sick or having symptoms. It’s called an asymptomatic infection. Just another OMG really? to think about. I’m a stay at home—doing final edits on the book. No gathering and one outing a week to grocery shop & run errands. Masked & armed with Purell. If I get anything it will be hand sanitizer & alcohol poisoning from overuse. And raw, chapped hands from over washing. Let’s just hope the virus isn’t stalking us whenever we go out. 📚🎶 Christine

        Liked by 1 person

        • From what I’ve read, the people who got blood clots had been healthy. Which makes it odd, but still the smaller risk.

          I’ve got an article opened and as yet unread on why the vaccines don’t stop us carrying the virus. If there’s anything useful iin it, I’ll include it in a post at some point. If it’s more of the same–well, I’m getting tired of watching my fingers type out the same old stuff.

          A store near here sells bottles of hand sanitizer that aren’t a gel–just liquid alcohol. I hate how sticky the gel is, so I’ve been using that. I can’t think why anyone introduced the gel to begin with.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’ll be interested to learn more about the carrier theory. The only non sticky gel hand sanitizer (with aloe) is Purell. Of course, not on the market now since the pandemic started. 🤨

            I just sent you an email on One jab is doing the job. Interesting you can be half vaccinated and second shot in a few months after. It’s from a daily New York Times report. Ever changing news about the vaccines makes my head hurt! 😳🤕

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for sending the article. The British gamble does seem to be working, but–. Damn, there are so many unknowns in this. Yesterday’s news is that the R number is below 1, but in parts of the country the infection rates are still stubbornly high. If anyone’s figured out why, I haven’t heard about it yet.

              I’m not sure what’ll happen to people scheduled for second shots now that there’s been (so far as anyone knows at this point) an interruption in the vaccine supply, or how a delay will affect our immunity.

              Excuse me while I go tend to this headache.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Believe me, more headaches coming with changing daily news. I just read that there’s a window of 6 weeks to get the second shot. So, if there’s a delay, don’t worry. The one shot protects you up to 85%. With 2 it’s 95%. CDC says the same about the 6 weeks. The percentages I read in an internet article. Wow! What to think? 🙄🤔

                Liked by 1 person

              • I think that paragraph contained numbers, which means anything I think is immediately suspect. But it sounds like (minus the numbers, which are just a faint buzz in my memory) what the British authorities are telling us: One dose is surprisingly protective; two doses are more protective. We’re working with 12 weeks, although my partner’s at 12 weeks and hasn’t been scheduled for the second shot. (She’s going to call and see what she can shake loose.) I did read an article speculating on whether in the long term spacing the shots out this way might allow for additional variants to be created, but it was speculative. Basically, what I think I’m saying here is that I don’t know anything useful.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Let’s go with half protected with one shot and get the second one whenever it’s available. Just continue to stay safe—mask, social distancing and wash hands. Full protection you can ease up! Useful info today, may not be tomorrow. These vaccines are sounding a lot like the flu vaccine. Some protection, but if you get the flu, it will be a milder case. To ease your headaches about all of this, I hope you & your partner get the second shot. Fingers crossed! 🤞

                Liked by 1 person

              • My partner should’ve heard about the second shot appt. by now and hasn’t. She’ll be on the phone tomorrow. There are times that making a polite nuisance of yourself–well, there’s just no substitute.

                That sounds like a simple and wise set of guidelines. Thanks. And you stay well, you hear me?

                Liked by 1 person

              • The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Tell your partner to squeak loud! 🤣 I read somewhere, even after 2 shots you should still wear a mask, etc. The only okay was within families, you could go back to normalcy. Of course, you are up on all the vaccine news. You’re telling me and other blog followers the latest. I appreciate that! Thanks! 📚🎶

                Liked by 1 person

              • I still need reminding. I have this absurd, creeping sense of normalcy. I can’t see any viruses around me, so it must be okay. It’s scary how easy it is not to be scared.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Think of it this way. That coronavirus and thousands of others are lurking everywhere. Some you’ll be immune to, some won’t cause any sickness, some could cause havoc with your body. But, it’s like Russia roulette—which bullet/one will get you. Not that I’m a germs phobic. I was introduced to germs way back in nursing school. We have a mutual agreement to stay away from one another. As long as I play by the rules. Stay safe—don’t touch your face and wash your hands. Big brother Germ is watching you! 🤣

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yay—thanks for spreading the word, Ellen. Of course, I even have a permanent sign in my kitchen! Don’t spread germs WASH YOUR HANDS. It has colorful, cute bug-eyed germs of every variety on it. All my old friends! 🤣

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Astra-Zeneca vaccines haven’t been approved for use in the US yet but apparently we have a pre-ordered stash of them, so the administration is releasing them for use in Canada & Mexico, where they are approved.
    “Ya pays yer money and takes yer choice.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. The AZ was ok’d in Canada a few weeks ago. We’ve had issues getting enough vaccine but that’s a completely different story and would take a bottle of wine to get through. Anyway, the provincial Health Dr. said the likelihood in getting a blood clot from AZ i so small and remote and there’s been like 13 (or was it 31)?? after thousands are done. So tired of it all….here’s my arm. Jab it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read that there had been more incidents of blood clots with the pfizer jab. It stands to reason that if you vaccinate millions of people that a few of them with happen to develop problems which may or may not be linked to the vaccine. Unfortunately, it may well put off people from having the vaccine. They are far more like to get ill/develop long covid without the jab than they are develop blood clots with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And it’s looking up! Scientists in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have now proven the mechanism behind this rare form of brain thrombosis. According to the Greifswald University Hospital, a team of researchers found that the vaccine had triggered a defence mechanism in the body of those affected, which activated the blood platelets to develop this thrombosis. They have also developed a possibly successful therapy.
    I am sure more information will follow.
    One of the reasons why this has spiked in Germany and not in the UK is the age group. In the UK the AZ vaccine to date has been used mainly in elderly people. The cases in Germany and Denmark occurred mainly in young women (12 female, one male but his case was a slightly different form of brain thrombosis).
    Science can be really exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As someone else mentioned, we (US) are trying to send our AZ supply to Canada/Mexico. I’ve had two from Pfizer. A little rough after the 2nd shot for about 48 hours and a lingering desire to add a ‘P’ to before words beginning with ‘F’

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s understandable that some nations may want to pause the use of a vaccine if they have genuine concerns about it. But whilst we could all do with greater transparency and honesty from politicians, I think this is an instance where, if possible, it would have been in the collective interest to just stop the supply for some other reason until the concerns have been answered, or proven. It seems to have been handled clumsily.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. There’s a faint whiff of panic about it. Which I can understand, given the fear that if they didn’t act instantly someone would die horribly. Of course, if they did act instantly, more people would die horribly of a different cause and many people would shore up their fear of the vaccines. It’s not an enviable position, but I do think you’re right.

      Liked by 1 person

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