Covid-19 vaccine shortfall overtakes concerns about blood clotting
The UK’s so-far hugely successful vaccine roll-out programme has experienced its first setbacks this week, with the news of ‘constrained supply’ of vaccines and concerns being raised about blood clots that fly in the face of the evidence both damaging public confidence.
The developments come as officials celebrate reaching a milestone in the vaccine roll-out – 25 million UK citizens vaccinated.
The number of people getting the first dose of their Covid-19 jab will be “constrained” as a result of a reduction in the supply available, health officials have said.
NHS leaders said there will be a “significant reduction” in the weekly vaccine supply available from the week beginning March 29.
A letter to regional NHS bosses says that the reduction will continue for a “four-week period”.
Local health leaders have been told to focus efforts on the top priority groups in the letter, signed by Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care for the NHS in England, and Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer.
“The government’s Vaccines Task Force have now notified us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March, meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained,” the letter states.
“They now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.”
The letter adds that inviting people for jabs who are not in the top nine priority groups is “only permissible in exceptional circumstances”.
It adds: “Those aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccination unless they are eligible via a higher cohort because they are eg clinically vulnerable, unpaid carer or frontline health and care workers.”
Meanwhile, the allegations of a possible increased significance of blood clots have been rebutted by AstraZeneca and Pfizer following analysis of the Yellow Card reporting data.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has run a Yellow Card reporting system since 1964. It is routinely used by doctors to report events that might be related to a medicine or vaccine.
“The Yellow Card reporting system is well established,” explains Cambridge virology expert John Creedy. “If you have a therapeutic treatment and it causes any sort of side effects it is reported to the manufacturer, and the MHRS publishes a report of on its website.
“To date there have been 33,207 total reports for the Pfizer jab, and 227 deaths in total.”
This means fatalities from all ailments are 0.0068 per cent of the total number of incidents reported about the Pfizer vaccine, which compares to 1 per cent of deaths from blood clots on airline flights.
“For AstraZeneca the number of reports using the Yellow Card system is 54,180,” continues Mr Creedy, a Linton resident with medicare start-up and other pharmaceutical producer experience. “The fatalities have been 275.”
This means fatalities have been 0.005 per cent for the AstraZeneca vaccine, suggesting that in fact the Pfizer vaccine has a marginally higher fatality rate. More than 11 million AstraZeneca vaccine does have been administered in the UK, with 10 million Pfizer vaccines distributed.
In fact, every day in the UK its is estimated that 274 people die from blood clots. This means that there is in fact an argument to suggest that the vaccine against Covid-19 will reduce your likelihood from blood clots.
In a statement to the Cambridge Independent, a Pfizer spokesperson said: “The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted a temporary authorisation for use for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 on 2nd December 2020. Safety for our patients is our top priority and as with all new medicines or vaccines authorised for use, we have a regulatory commitment for post approval safety monitoring.
“The latest BNT162b2 safety data are in line with the known side effect profile. The benefits of BNT162b2 in helping to prevent Covid-19 continue to outweigh any risks and there are no recommended changes regarding the use the vaccine. The most recent safety update from the MHRA, dated March 11 2020, can be found here.”
Dr Phil Bryan, MHRA vaccines safety lead, said: “The benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, far outweigh the risks of side effects. People should go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so.
“It is still the case that it has not been confirmed the reported blood clots were caused by the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon.”