Two independent groups of scientists in Germany and Norway have discovered that the AstraZeneca vaccine can indeed lead to blood clots in the veins in the brain, writes The Wall Street Journal. More than 20 countries suspended the use of the vaccine after detecting several dozen cases of thrombosis and thromboembolism in March.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can lead to poor blood clotting in the brain's blood vessels, scientists have confirmed. Hematology professor Paul Andre Holm, who investigated blood clots in Norway, said his team had found an antibody created by the vaccine that caused the adverse reaction. And according to Holm, the vaccine is the only explanation for this reaction.
The same conclusions were reached in Germany. Medical professor Andreas Grainacher explained that headaches and visual impairment could be an adverse reaction to the vaccine. A blood clot can be detected with such symptoms with a standard blood test. According to him, once a blood clot is detected, it can be easily cured in a mid-level hospital, and the adverse reaction itself develops in a minimal number of patients.
The WHO claims that they did not find evidence of a link between thromboembolism and the drug, and the company itself is confident that the vaccine is safe and has passed all the necessary clinical studies. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), at a meeting on March 18, said that the effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the potential risks, and there is no evidence of a link between blood clots and specific vaccine batches.
Before the EMA's announcement, 20 countries refused the vaccine, most of them are European. Some of them decided to resume work with the company after the regulator's assurances. Still, the Scandinavian countries - Denmark, Norway, and Sweden - chose to wait for their own research results. The Norwegian Ministry of Health will not return to the use of the vaccine yet, he said after publishing his scientists' research results.
What does it threaten?
The pause in itself means a further lag in the EU in terms of the proportion of vaccinated from the United States and Great Britain against the background of the beginning of the third wave of coronavirus. Not so long ago, Europe planned to vaccinate 70% of the population and defeat the pandemic by the summer, but by mid-March, no more than 4% are fully vaccinated in most countries. In France, Germany, and Italy, about 15% of those already vaccinated received the "Oxford" vaccine.
Secondly, the suspension of vaccination appears to be a political decision for the sake of reassuring the population without assessing the consequences. Scientists believe that in this case, WHO and EMA were the voice of reason. They remind us that thrombosis (albeit not of cerebral veins) is one of the typical coronavirus complications. The number of such cases due to the suspension of vaccination is likely to be higher than due to immunization, a causal relationship with which has not even been proven.
Officials are simply not used to decisions that directly oppose the cost of action (stop vaccination, risk the lives of the unvaccinated) and inaction (continue vaccination, endanger the lives of the vaccinated), explains Oxford professor of medical ethics Dominic Wilkinson. Therefore, they habitually (and incorrectly) chose to act, he notes. And the politicians of some small countries that barely received the vaccine, but immediately banned it, received political points for free.
Finally, the loss of confidence by Europeans in vaccination in general (it is already almost half that in the United States) and in the European vaccine, in particular, should not be underestimated. Europeans in polls preferred AstraZeneca American vaccines Pfizer and Moderna, writes CNBC. The EU order from AstraZeneca (400 million doses) is less than from Pfizer and Moderna (1.06 billion doses), but still reaches 15% of the total.