By Paddy Kent
Today the Government joined several other European countries in applying the brakes (albeit lightly) on the Astra Zeneca vaccine, announcing that under 30s will no longer be offered the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
It seems the Astra Zeneca vaccine is fine for those over 30, but those under 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine because Astra Zeneca is apparently just not quite safe enough. This is a difficult one to get your head around.
It turns out it’s all about benefits and risks. The reality is that according to the government, statistically I’m of an age (34) where I’m more at risk of becoming ill from Covid than I am of becoming ill from a vaccination that seems to have a minute risk of causing me to suffer a blood clot. I turned 30 just last year fours ago, so unsurprisingly am left feeling very close, personally, to this seemingly arbitrary cut off. 10 years ago, apparently, and this benefits-risks trade-off would have been the other way around. It seems crude, but does fit with some internal observations of my own ageing – the usual stuff about how 10 years ago I was stronger and fitter and better able to handle donuts and perform despite a hangover.
BUT! For those that care for statistics, there is actually more to it! Never afraid to give us the data during this pandemic, the Gov.uk website shows 79 people have now suffered blood clots after vaccination, and it seems that actually, the blood clots linked to the AZ vaccine aren’t distributed evenly across age groups. 58% of those that died (just 19) were under 50, which I can spot is probably fairly unrepresentative of those vaccinated. There is also a link with sex, with 65% of those becoming ill being women. So is the conclusion (delete one) that the AZ vaccine has, potentially a causal link (albeit microscopic) with blood clots, especially if you are a woman under 50?! Tiny sample sizes being considered here but still slightly worrying.
Communication is my job, but I’d rather not be in Matt Hancock’s shoes to explain this one. Thankfully throughout this pandemic government messaging has been clear and consistent so far.