UK reassures AstraZeneca after advising under 30s to take other vaccines

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The UK has continued to use its AstraZeneca vaccine since becoming the first country to deploy it.

London:

UK officials and ministers sought to build confidence in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying the advice that most people under 30 should be offered alternative vaccines was not unusual and would not impact the pace of deployment.

A pharmacist whose brother died of a brain blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca injection was among those calling on people to keep getting it, saying the doses would save lives.

Officials said the suggestion that those under 30 should be offered an alternative did not reflect serious safety concerns, just a possible “disappearing” side effect.

Anthony Harnden, vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) which issued the new opinion, said such suggestions were not unusual, pointing out that people of different ages are already getting vaccinated against influenza in Great Britain.

“This is not unusual. So that does not call into question what the regulators are saying. The regulators say this vaccine is suitable for all age groups, but it is up to individual countries to decide how best. to deploy these vaccines, ”he told Reuters. in an interview.

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While the UK drugs regulator MHRA has not placed age restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, some have seen JCVI’s advice on those under 30, spelled out in the same briefing, as mixed messages .

Conservative lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith said the ad was “ridiculous” and there was “the dangerous potential” for people to refuse to be shot by AstraZeneca.

Health Minister Matt Hancock defended the move, saying transparency about possible side effects, even very rare ones, should boost confidence in the system.

Britain has continued to use its local AstraZeneca vaccine since becoming the first country to start rolling it out in early January. Some European countries, including France, initially limited its use in the elderly, citing a lack of data, and now limit its use in the elderly.

Harnden said Wednesday’s announcement was not taken lightly and that it had been fair to keep using the shot even though the board was changing.

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“Stopping, starting and changing immunization programs is not an easy thing to do, and if you do, you run the risk of losing confidence in this program,” he said.

Always on the right track

Britain relies on AstraZeneca for much of its vaccine supply, with 100 million doses ordered.

But it has also been deploying vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, since December, and Moderna since Wednesday. The photos taken by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax are also awaiting regulatory approval in the coming months.

Hancock said with 40 million Pfizer and 17 million Moderna vaccines ordered, there was more than enough vaccines to cover the 8.5 million people under the age of 30 who needed to be vaccinated. Healthy under-30s are among the last priority cohort to be vaccinated, with most not being eligible until the summer.

“We believe that we have enough vaccines to be able to offer (an) alternative vaccine, without delaying the progress of our vaccinations,” JCVI’s Harnden said, adding that Britain was on track to give a first vaccine to all adults. end of July.

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“It may take a week or two, but not more,” he said.

The advice has not changed for those under the age of 30 who have underlying conditions and are eligible for vaccines now, meaning that only very few people who are due to be vaccinated in the next few days will be affected by the. change of advice.

Alison Astles, a pharmacist whose 59-year-old brother died of a blood clot in his brain on Sunday, urged people to continue getting vaccinated with AstraZeneca, even though it was “very strongly suggested” that her death was due to shooting.

“The sister in me still feels absolutely furious and very angry that this has happened to my brother … But despite what happened to Neil and the impact on our family, I still firmly believe that people should move on. forward and get vaccinated., “she said.

“Overall, we will save more lives by receiving the vaccine than not.”

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)

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