939,534 people have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Spain and many others were on the waiting list: how the stoppage affects them and what can we expect in the coming days
That is the number of the moment. The one of the 939,534 people who have already received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Spain, according to data from the Ministry of Health. And not only because of the doubts and anxiety that the information chaos that the cascade of countries has unleashed by temporarily suspending vaccinations with this vaccine must be generating; also due to the uncertainty of not knowing for sure what will happen if this stoppage is prolonged in time.
And to that almost a million people we must add all those who were about to be vaccinated and, by extension, the 40 million people who are still to be vaccinated in the country. In what situation is the entire vaccination campaign left with this stoppage of at least 15 days? Are we approaching a huge vaccination bottleneck that moves away from the goals of 70% of vaccinated in summer? We try to answer all these questions
What happened to the AstraZeneca vaccine and why has Spain stopped vaccinations?
Over the past few weeks, certain European countries detected some cases of thromboembolism among people who had been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Aggregate data for the entire continent, as the European Medicines Agency has recalled on several occasions, do not allow establishing a relationship between one thing and the other (that is, there are no more cases among vaccinated than among non-vaccinated). However, it was a specific type of thrombosis that drew the attention of these countries and made them preventively paralyze the batch of the vaccine that could present doubts.
So far, it is a fairly common pharmacovigilance process: doubts arise, data are analyzed and processes are stopped if necessary. However, last Friday Denmark (which we remember is the EU country that has vaccinated the most and depends the least on this vaccine in the short term) He decided stop all vaccinations with this vaccine and, from that moment on, the countries that have joined this paralysis have not stopped growing causing a ‘snowball’ effect.
Yesterday, with Germany, France and Italy, there were already a dozen European countries and that “pressure” forced to summon a meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council to, finally, suspend the vaccine also in Spain. In other words, what we have seen these days is a combination between a relatively normal and reasonable pharmacovigilance process and a “contagion” between countries of measures halfway between prudence and misunderstood risk containment.
I have received the first dose of the vaccine, should I be concerned?
At first, all the data suggest that the vaccine is not directly related to thrombosis. As I write this, 37 cases have been reported among the 17 million vaccines that have been administered. Figures very similar to those of the general population and, furthermore, very low figures. To the point that even if that relationship existed, the risks linked to the vaccine would probably be not only much lower than those of the disease (because we remember that COVID-19 also generates thrombi), but there are drugs on the market with higher risks (the contraceptive pill, without going any further).
That is, according to the data we have, there is no reason to assume that the health of the vaccinated is compromised by the vaccine. However, it does not make sense to deny that vaccines like all drugs can cause adverse reactions. The approval processes are not focused on ensuring that they are 100% risk free, but rather that those risks are low enough and the benefits high enough. Therefore, if we notice any strange symptoms, it is advisable to contact our doctor (or, directly, go to the emergency room).
I have received the first dose, what happens if the stoppage is delayed more than 12 weeks? How?
“The second dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine is given between 10 and 12 weeks after the first, so there is time to study the cases and make a decision. You have to ask people for calm and tranquility “, the Minister of Health explained yesterday at the exit of the Interterritorial Council that paralyzed the vaccine. He is right and that is the main asset that all the countries that have suspended vaccinations have.
In view of the data, European health authorities expect vaccinations to recover in a few days. At the end of the day, it is a process comparable to the stoppages of clinical trials that we saw during the past year. These expectations are due, in large part, to the conviction that the UK health authority has not encountered this problem despite the fact that it has given many vaccines in the country.
What will happen if the stoppage is finally extended? Precisely because of this, it is not clear. No country has presented contingency plans to modify vaccination plans if this paralysis is prolonged. The good news is that, as the Scottish data points out, the first dose of AstraZeneca has 94% effective against COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Picture | Hospital Clinic