Experts warn that Australia needs to change its COVID-19 vaccination strategy because AstraZeneca does not provide adequate protection for the community.
In the opinion article Policy forumProfessor Quentin Grafton, an economist and modeler professor at the Australian National University, along with other experts, including epidemiologists and biostatistician Dr. Zoe Hyde at the University of Western Australia, are four likely to be needed for the Australian vaccination program. Proposed a change.
“With the emergence of new, more contagious variants, Australia’s current COVID-19 vaccination strategy makes no sense from either a public health or economic perspective,” they write.
“It must change, otherwise Australia risks future epidemics and / or enormous costs from the blockade when its borders reopen.”
They believe Australia needs to do four things.
1. Strengthen the national quarantine system by acting on the latest evidence of the role of airborne transmission in quarantine violations.
2. Aim for herd immunity with the most effective vaccine possible to provide security against new variants of the virus, such as Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer.
3. Do not relax border restrictions until everyone has the opportunity to be vaccinated.And
4. Establish mass vaccination hubs at major centers to maximize the number of people who can be vaccinated daily, as Victoria does.
Concerns about AstraZeneca
Experts are critical of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Australia relies on vaccination of people over the age of 50..
“Herd immunity is the only way to permanently eliminate community infections and avoid costly blockades,” they write.
“This can be achieved with a Pfizer or Pfizer-Novabacs vaccination strategy, but because it is not possible to achieve herd immunity against some of the world’s most concerned variants using AstraZeneca. It cannot be achieved with the country’s current approach. “
The “real-world experience” shows that the Pfizer vaccine is 75% effective against infections caused by South African (B. 1.351) variants and 90% against UK (B.1.1.7) variants. Indicates that it is valid.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is only 10% effective against South African variants, but is probably still quite effective against severe illness.
The authors state that variants pose a “old and young” threat because young people are more likely to be hospitalized.
“In other words, the risks of ages 20-39 are now similar to the risks previously faced by ages 40-59,” they say.
“Variants also significantly increase the likelihood of death from COVID-19. UK variants increase this risk by 64%.”
Authors, including a professor of biosecurity and environmental economics, Tom Compass of the University of Melbourne, and mathematician and modeler Dr. John Purslow, say imposing AstraZeneca on people over the age of 50 is also “unfair.” I am.
“It deliberately gives elderly people at high risk of serious illness and death from the less effective vaccine, COVID-19,” they claim.
“There is also the risk of creating a situation where South African variants can spread to older Australians if border control is relaxed or outbreaks occur.
“A version of the AstraZeneca vaccine licensed and manufactured in India, which has completely vaccinated the highest proportion of the population in 61% of the population (40% of the total population), is currently in the following cases: Is facing a surge in. South African variants seem to play a role. “
They also argue that the data on AstraZeneca’s effectiveness in preventing severe illness and death are not as clear as some suggest.
“Vaccines in the Australian portfolio are claimed to be 100% effective in preventing severe illness and death, but that is not supported by science,” they write.
“In the AstraZeneca trial, there were too few severe cases to accurately assess this endpoint. Estimated efficacy ranges from 72 to 100% for severe illness.
“In contrast, actual Israeli experience has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is 97.5% effective against severe illness and has a confidence interval of 97.1-97.8%.”
Risk of blood clots
AstraZeneca also has a risk of blood clots, and the European Medicines Agency has doubled its estimated risk of blood clots in the elderly since the Australian Immunotechnology Advisory Group (ATAGI) conducted its own analysis of the problem. The author states.
The authors believe that this would change ATAGI’s risk analysis if there was another outbreak in Australia (corresponding to the first wave of 7,000 cases and 100 deaths).
“Importantly, if ATAGI used a modified higher estimate of thrombotic risk … people between the ages of 50 and 60 would have been recommended for AstraZeneca as well,” they write. ..
The authors must reassure the public that the Australian Government needs the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine among people over the age of 50 and is not only imposed to allow early reopening of the border. It states that it will not be.
A three to six month delay in border reopening could cost the economy $ 6 to $ 12 billion, but would allow anyone to get the Pfizer or Nova Bucks vaccine instead of AstraZeneca. They say it’s worth it.
They point out that if a large outbreak occurs, or if more frequent short blockades are needed after the reopening of the border, the cost is much less than the cost of a long-term blockade.
“Australia’s vaccination strategy needs to change as the facts change,” they argue.
“Importantly, AstraZeneca-only vaccination strategies over the age of 50 do not provide the level of protection needed to safely ease border control, nor do they provide herd immunity,” they said. It was.
“The country is not really safe until we reach herd immunity. When this threshold is reached, outbreaks spread rapidly within the community and do not lead to epidemics.
“It also protects millions of Australians who are not currently vaccinated, such as children and adolescents, who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”
However, Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett disagrees and believes that “the vaccine you have in your arm is better than the vaccine of the future.”
“AstraZeneca has a great effect on most strains,” she told news.com.au.
“It’s a problem for me not to give it when we get it.”
Professor Bennett said it would be better to use an available vaccine. Ultimately, all vaccines will be adjusted and improved to provide a better range.
Waiting for Pfizer will push the vaccination program “towards next year”, and Australia may struggle as other parts of the world have been opened with vaccinations like Pfizer and AstraZeneca. ..
“I don’t think it makes public sense now to reduce our vaccination strategy,” she said.
“We need some degree of population protection and we can build on it.”
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