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One more for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

Meanwhile, global concern over it seems misplaced

By Ricky Browne

So on Wednesday I joined the 26 million people in the UK who got there before me, and got my first Covid-19 vaccination. It was the Oxford AstraZeneca, and so far I haven’t heard the noise of a little R2-D2 whirring around my arteries, and I don’t seem to be growing another head.

The only thing I feel, apart from being relieved that I now have it,  is a little soreness in my arm.

There was no sigh of R2-D2 or C3PO for that matter

The process was very simple and streamlined. First I booked my appointment online once the NHS said my group would be starting. I set an appointment time of 12:05 pm for my first shot, and the same time for my next shot in three months.

I got to the centre – a school – a little early, at about 11:50 pm, but they ushered me right in, asking me about my documents on the way. At least 15 people were working to ensure you got through the gate, through the door, down the hall, and into the large auditorium.

There was no sitting or waiting. There were about 20 tables, each with two nurses, administering the vaccines to various patients. And one was ready for me as soon as I stepped into the room.

So up I went. They took my documents, including my registration number and my NHS number.

I had to read quite a long list of any issues I might be having – things like was I feeling any flu symptoms or had I felt any symptoms of Covid-19. Then one of the nurses told me that if I felt ill afterwards I could call 111. Or if I felt it was life-threatening, I could call 999.

That is the moment, I suppose, that some people could freak out. But then she added that actually nothing would go wrong, but that they were required to say this. I suppose that wouldn’t reassure many doubters, but I was already convinced that there was no danger, so wasn’t bothered either way.

And after I took off my raincoat and sweater, the lovely nurse on my left injected me in no time. It was painless. I took a photo to post onto my social media – not just to record it, but to hopefully influence even one person who might be having doubts about it.

And then I was off. No sitting down somewhere and waiting 15 minutes to see if I’d die or not. On my way out they asked me a few questions about how I found the process. I found it very satisfying. Would I recommend it to anyone? Definitely.

The whole process from start to finish took less than 10 minutes, from walking through the gate to walking back out.

And then I was out of there, heading back home. On the way back I stopped and bought some paracetamol in case I got any flu-like pains. But so far nothing.

I put the photo on my social media, and got about 120 likes – which suggests that a large group of my friends are willing to get the vaccine or already have. Or, I suppose, it could suggest that some of them would like to see me grow a second head, or be controlled by Bill Gates from his secret lair. I’d prefer to think that is not the case.

I also got a couple comments online about my beard – which truth be told does not look great in this photo at all. Some questioned if it was a ferret or perhaps a mongoose attached to my face. In fact it is a yeard, which I have been growing since becoming a virtual hermit from at least June last year – and it has about three more months to go before officially qualifying as a full-fledged yeard. Yes – it’s a thing.

Rikki Tikki Tavi (no relation) prepares to fight the Cobra in the Jungle Book

So don’t worry on that front, the vaccine hasn’t caused rapid hair growth. If it did, it would probably get a lot more people signed up.

CONCERN OVER ASTRAZENECA

Global concern over the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has been getting out of hand.

The UK has injected millions of people — more than 26 million — with either the Pfizer or Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, and has had no issues at all. That is better than any trial, because any trial would be much smaller by definition.That is not to say there weren’t trials. There were. And the trials were successful, which is why the vaccine was approved by Britain’s medical authorities and the WHO and many other authorities.

But many European countries – 13 EU states at last count – stalled AstraZeneca earlier this week, worried about reports coming out of Denmark about a handful of people developing blood clots. That group included Germany, France and Italy.

AstraZeneca is safe says the European Medicines Agency

Earlier today, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — EU’s medicines regulator — finished its review and stated that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is “safe and effective”.

Several European countries have been running hot and cold on the AstraZeneca vaccine for a while now – and a lot of it is down to jealousy that the vaccine should originate in the UK, a country that finalised its divorce process with the EU on December 31.

President Macron of France has been a main offender. He said that the AstraZeneca was no good for people over the ae of 65. Then he backtracked and said he’d be happy to take it. And now he again has stalled its rollout on these blood clot fears. And now it looks like he is about to lift the ban.

The fact is that if you take a group of more than 17 million people globally and give them a vaccine, in all likelihood some of them will develop blood clots. Maybe even more than the 37 or so people in this instance.  

If you take a group of more than 17 million people and give them a completely harmless glass of water, in all likelihood some of them will also develop blood clots. Shit happens. People develop blood clots all the time. The fact that they may have had a vaccine didn’t necessarily cause the clot. And even if it did, isn’t the risk of 37 people out of 17 million people worth it?

AstraZeneca has basically taken that line as well, stating that there is no evidence of an increased risk of clotting due to the vaccine.

It said that the reports of blood clots were “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed Covid-19 vaccines.”

AstraZeneca and Pfizer are the two dominant vaccines across the globe at the moment by a long shot.

But this constant eagerness to pause the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the behalf of mainly European countries is driving up fear levels. For people who are worried about all the conspiracy theories, this could be enough to put them on the side of the antivaxxers.

Or it could cause them to wait for an alternate vaccine – at a time when speed is key. The longer people wait to get a vaccine, the more people will die.

At this point it is a safe assumption that virtually everyone on the planet will end up catching this disease, vaccinated or not. Those people who are vaccinated will probably not have to go to hospital, many may not feel the effects of the disease, and won’t die. But for people who aren’t vaccinated, they may well end up in hospital fighting for their lives, and many of those unfortunate souls will needlessly die.

So in the effort to take a swipe at the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, these largely European leaders are playing with people’s lives — including the lives of their own citizens.

They need to embrace this thing and move with the programme, in the hope that maybe their own scientists may also develop a vaccine that works. But don’t delay.

Many countries with a lot less resources than them are working on vaccines too. Iran and Cuba for example. Perhaps they’d like to wait on those vaccines, rather than face the shame of injecting their citizens with a vaccine that was developed by the United Kingdom at the University of Oxford.

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