AstraZeneca and why its reputation precedes it

Vector

There has been a lot of talk about AstraZeneca or now Vaxzevria; and in our heads – as it is often the case – mostly the negative talk stuck.

Two types of vaccines are approved. For one, mRNA vaccines, which contain gene segments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Vector-based vaccines, such as Vaxzevria, are also approved. These consist of viruses that are harmless to humans.

In the UK, Vaxzevria has been approved in December already, but many of us don’t want it. Why? It has got a lot to do with the bad press for the vaccine at the beginning of 2021. 

 

There are mainly three reasons why there were concerns about the vaccine. 

Firstly, its effectiveness is lower than for other vaccines. While others reach 95% of effectiveness, AstraZeneca reaches 82% of effectiveness after the second vaccine.

Secondly, it is said to not be effective for the South African Corona variant. The study showed a low impact of the vaccine for moderate or milder courses of disease. 

Thirdly, there were media claims that it has “horrible” side effects and very rare blood clots. Which is probably the biggest reason for people feeling uncomfortable with it.

 

But are those reasons really something we should concern ourselves with? It is an approved vaccine in the end, and should concerns not be left to the professionals rather than politicians or the media? Badmouthing a vaccine that works has caused a much slower vaccination programme across the EU than in countries including the UK. 

 

Why we still think it is a good idea to get the Vaxzevria vaccine:

After all, scientists have good things to say about AstraZeneca. Christian Drosten, a famous German virologist of the Charité Berlin, claims that the vaccine is better than its reputation.

And those opinions do have grounds. The percentage of effectiveness for Moderna might have been higher; but studies often did not include so called ‘Variants of Concern’, which basically means the variants or ‘mutations’ of the virus – which were included in AstraZeneca studies.

And yes, in a study AstraZeneca did not prove to be effective against the South African variant. BUT it does prove to be very effective regarding the very contagious Indian variant (60%) and the Kent variant (60%), especially when combined with BioNTech as the second vaccine – now a common practice.

Also, the common belief that AstraZeneca is only used for the “older” population is not completely true. Again, especially in combination with Pfizer, it proves to be very effective and appropriate for all age groups.

To elaborate on those rare side effects: The risk of 3 deaths per one million vaccines with AZ is the same as the chances of being hit by a distracted driver in a year. The side effects occur slightly less for persons over 80, hence the common prejudice. A connection of the side effects to gender has not been confirmed – although I can confirm as a woman I am preparing for a day feeling pretty rough tomorrow!

One of the most important arguments in favour of getting the vaccine or any vaccine as soon as possible is the long term condition that develops from a COVID infection: Long COVID. Long COVID can affect many organ systems. People that are diagnosed suffer from breathing or heart problems, and in many cases long term neuropsychological consequences. This can mean brain fog, memory loss, or even speaking difficulties. And according to studies, the average age was 49 which means that this also affects the younger population.

 

To lift your concerns, we summarised the

Advantages of getting the Vaxzevria vaccine:

  • 60% protection against the highly contagious Indian variant
  • 66% protection against the Kent variant
  • Persons under the age of 60 are also well protected, especially combined with BioNTech
  • Protection against long-term conditions like Long COVID
  • AND especially: Protecting yourself and others and enjoy life again

 

So if you get the call: Say yes and be safe!

The AstraZeneca vaccine may not have proven to be highly effective for milder illness but it proves very effective for more intense ones. Which is the most important, right?

Of course, please be sure to do your own research and make sure that you are happy with your decision.

 

Sources

  1. https://www.br.de/nachrichten/wissen/corona-impfstoff-von-astrazeneca-das-muessen-sie-wissen,SPHZxnS
  2. https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/vakzine-coronamutante-101.html
  3. https://khub.net/documents/135939561/430986542/Effectiveness+of+COVID-19+vaccines+against+the+B.1.617.2+variant.pdf/204c11a4-e02e-11f2-db19-b3664107ac42
  4. https://www.aerztezeitung.de/Medizin/Long-COVID-Langzeitfolgen-einer-COVID-19-Erkrankung-t57.html
  5. https://www.zeit.de/gesundheit/2021-04/corona-impfung-astrazeneca-junger-mensch-risiko-pro-contra-2#wie-hoch-ist-das-risiko-fuer-die-seltenen-nebenwirkungen

 

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