Canada

‘Messing around is going to cost lives’: AstraZeneca developer slams Canada’s approach to the vaccine

Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia have pointed to a connection between the vaccine and a rare blood clotting condition as part of their reason to pause giving out the shot

Article content

A Canadian researcher who oversaw the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine says the country’s vaccine strategy has been to act “on hearsay and not a lot of facts,” after several provinces have paused giving out first doses of the vaccine.

Speaking on CTV News’ Question Period, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University Sir John Bell criticized Canada’s approach to the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying that the COVID-19 immunization effort is a “race against time.”

“At my last look you guys are 3.6 per cent vaccinated with two doses, so just wait for the (B.1.617 variant) to rip through the Canadian population, and then the problems you’ve had with these very rare (blood) clotting events will look pretty insignificant,” said Bell.

Multiple provinces have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for first doses, due in part to a lack of supply. However, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia have also pointed to a connection between the vaccine and a rare blood clotting condition as part of their reason to pause giving out the shot, reports The Canadian Press.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

While some provinces, like Alberta, plan to reserve their remaining supply of AstraZeneca for second doses, Ontario is still deciding when or if it will offer those who received a first shot of AstraZeneca a second dose.

“My advice is get people two doses, as fast as you can and hunker down,” said Bell. “So, for the Canadians to be out thinking about whether they should have a second dose, you know, eating marshmallows around the campfire looks a bit silly to me, frankly.”

“I just think this game of waiting around for the perfect solution, while there’s a massive pandemic coming in your direction — that does not look smart to me,” he added.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

In early May, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which provides guidance on the use of vaccines in Canada, drew criticism for saying that they “preferentially recommend” mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.

Based on evidence at the time, the NACI recommended viral vector vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccine, should be offered to individuals aged 30 and older if they preferred an earlier vaccine “rather than wait for an mRNA vaccine.”

But Bell says the “most important” thing is for everyone to get their first dose of vaccine.

“Unless you’ve got two doses of mRNA vaccine sitting in a back room, you need to get on and vaccinate people with any one of the four good vaccines,” he said. “All this messing around is going to cost lives. It’s a public health decision, it’s not some academic game.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Get people two doses, as fast as you can and hunker down

Sir John Bell

According to Bell, Oxford University is currently conducting a study on mixing AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, and its initial findings suggest there are some side effects.

“Our experience to date is that it produces pretty severe reactogenicity, so severe that we don’t think it’s going to be viable,” he added. “By that I mean, you get your second dose if you flip it over, you’ll get really sick, so I would not advise that.”

According to a University of Oxford press release on Thursday, researchers have found that mixed vaccine dosing schedules produced more frequent mild to moderate “reactions” following the second “boost” dose, as opposed to standard or non-mixed vaccine schedules.

“The results from this study suggest that mixed dose schedules could result in an increase in work absences the day after immunization,” said Matthew Snape, an associate professor in paediatrics and vaccinology at Oxford, and the chief investigator on the trial.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The impact of the mixed dosing schedules on immunity is also not yet known.

All this messing around is going to cost lives. It’s a public health decision

Sir John Bell

During question period on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he intends to get his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I talked to my doctor just last week and he recommended that I indeed get a second dose of AstraZeneca in the coming weeks or months when it becomes available,” he said.

There are about 655,000 doses of AstraZeneca currently sitting in Ontario freezers, which arrived through the COVAX initiative — a global alliance designed to help low and middle-income countries get access to COVID-19 vaccines.

About one million more AstraZeneca vaccines are also expected in Canada by the end of June.

“I think the argument for continuing to use the AstraZeneca vaccine is … that the incidence of these (blood clot) events are very, very rare,” said Bell.

Additional reporting by The Canadian Press.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

Back to top button
SoundCloud To Mp3