Scientific advisors from the UK government disagree on whether to propose an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for everyone under the age of 40.
The UK made a sudden change over the Astra Zeneca Zap, the heart of its vaccine program last month. This is after the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Vaccinations (JCVI) recommended that all healthy individuals under the age of 30 should be provided with alternatives where possible.
This measure has followed an assessment of the risk arising in different age groups compared to benefits and increasing evidence that injections can cause blood disorders in very rare cases.
A study by the Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge at the time showed that only adults under the age of 30 were at risk similar to Covid-19 and Zap, depending on their infection rate.
JCVI is debating whether the same advice to provide an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab, if possible, should be extended to a healthy cohort under the age of 40 starting a mass immunization program next month.
Some scientists on the committee are urging to extend the effective limit to ages 30 to 39, while others argue that there is not yet enough evidence to make a decision that could lower confidence in the vaccine.
According to JCVI members, we expect to make decisions as early as next week, but we are waiting for more data, including analysis of blood samples from some people with blood disorders.
Maarten Postma, professor of pharmacology and economics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and a member of JCVI, said, “We will definitely support providing another vaccine to people aged 30 to 40. “There is an alternative [vaccines] You can be careful.”
On Thursday, 68 cases of new blood disorders were reported in people who received AstraZeneca injections last week, according to the latest data from the UK’s Drug and Medical Products Regulatory Authority.
168 affected patients between the ages of 18 and 93 in the UK due to their coagulation status have killed 32 and have so far received 21.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. One case was reported in one individual after the second vaccination.
Postma added that the overall risk-benefit balance for all ages clearly favored the continued use of the vaccine. This could statistically prevent COVID-19 deaths per million people, while the disorder, given that scientists expect one fatal case of blood.
“But people don’t think in terms of risk-benefits,” he said. “We give this vaccine to healthy people, so we have no tolerance for serious side effects.”
Another member of the JCVI that supports an alternative jab for under 40s said the risk-benefit calculations of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under 40s were “not really square.”
The incidence of clotting conditions for people of the age group with AstraZeneca jabs has been found to be between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 100,000. Modeling shows that between 1 in 30,000 and 1 in 50,000 need vaccination to prevent a single death in the same cohort from Covid-19, JCVI members added.
Others on the committee are more optimistic. Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a member of JCVI, said he believed there was ample uncertainty about the exact relationship between vaccines and coagulation disorders to justify taking AstraZeneca to people aged 30 to 39 years old.
“Providing an AZ alternative to everyone under the age of 40 would be a huge step forward in terms of confidence,” he said. Effective restrictions will slow the launch of the UK’s vaccine program and increase the risk for those who are not vaccinated. He added.
Analysts at Airfinity previously estimated that a change in guidelines for the use of AstraZeneca under the age of 30 could reverse immunizations in the UK by a month or so.
Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said JCVI should make “the best decisions about the evidence they have.” AstraZeneca declined to comment.
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