A scientist who worked on the AstraZeneca vaccine has said “hundreds of thousands of people” probably died because some politicians and scientists unfairly damaged its reputation.
“They have damaged the reputation of the vaccine in a way that echoes around the rest of the world,” said Professor Sir John Bell from Oxford University.
“I think bad behaviour from scientists and from politicians has probably killed hundreds of thousands of people – and that they cannot be proud of.”
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April 2021: The numbers behind the AstraZeneca blood clot risk
He made the remarks in a BBC special programme on the vaccine, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
Despite a rapid rollout in the UK, concerns started swirling last January when France and Germany said they had doubts about its efficacy in over-65s.
That was despite the EU medicine regulator approving it for all adults.
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The concerns were unfounded, and the two countries made a U-turn. However, a few months later, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands were among nations to pause using the jab due to concerns over a tiny risk of blood clots.
UK government advisers said last spring under-40s should be offered an alternative, such as the Pfizer vaccine, where available.
They advised a “precautionary approach” after 242 clotting reports in people who also had low levels of platelets – among millions who had received a first AstraZeneca dose.
The JCVI stressed such events were “extremely rare” and that the advantages massively outweigh any risk – an assessment shared by the World Health Organization, which puts its efficacy at 76%.
Latest estimates for overall clotting cases is 15.5 per million doses, according to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Image: The AstraZeneca jab is not normally given as a booster
Oxford jab’s key role in global vaccine rollout
The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved in the US – which relies on vaccines by home-grown firms such as Moderna and Pfizer.
However, the company has played a major role in vaccinating low and middle-income countries, where it says it has delivered well over two billion doses.
But AstraZeneca has been sidelined in the UK’s booster jab campaign. It overwhelmingly uses Moderna and Pfizer as they are mRNA vaccines, which have been shown to produce a better increase in immunity.
AstraZeneca is only used when people can’t have the other two and makes up just 48,000 of the UK’s 37,000,000 boosters to date, according to the BBC.
Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca are also all working on a vaccine tailored to the Omicron variant which now dominates in the UK, much of Europe and the US.
Read more:UK marks one-year anniversary of approving Oxford jab’Trigger’ behind rare AZ vaccine blood clots may have been found
Source : Sky News