“Waiting for Pfizer really means 5 unnecessary months of lockdown”
Sydney has been on lockdown for over a month – the first entire city lockdown the city has experienced since early 2020. The lockdown is in place to tackle the Delta COVID-19 variant now in the community. 172 new cases have been registered today.
It’s not just Sydney that’s suffering – half of Australians have been locked up at some point in recent weeks, with Victoria’s restrictions set to ease tonight (although some will remain in place). Brisbane has also just emerged from a lockdown.
Many are frustrated by the slow deployment of the vaccine. Not only does this make our health vulnerable, but also our economy. It also means that we have closed our international borders.
Now, however, with the Delta variant of COVID-19 having broken out in Sydney, ATAGI has changed its advice for Sydney adults under the age of 60. Rather than being advised to take Pfizer (as the rest of Australian adults under 60 do), ATAGI now urges all adult Sydneysiders to “strongly consider” talking to their GP and getting AstraZeneca – which is much more readily available.
Brooklyn Ross, host of Sydney’s # 1 breakfast radio show “Kyle & Jackie O,” recently took to the air to share his take on the situation.
Entitled “How Pfizer Keeps Sydney Locked Up Longer,” its video claims, “Our fear of AstraZeneca will keep Australia locked up for months longer.”
Ross says, “Australia still has 17 million shots to bite, but we don’t have those shots yet. We receive a million doses of Pfizer every week from Europe, but if we continue to choose Pfizer over AstraZeneca, it will take us 5 months to be fully immunized. It may be December.
“Our AstraZeneca jabs are made in Australia in Melbourne. We’ve got plenty of spare, and we could do two and a half million doses every week. “
“If we all got AstraZeneca, we could literally be 80% vaccinated in 5 weeks,” he says.
“Pfizer really means 5 unnecessary months of foreclosure. “
“But I know what you are thinking – isn’t AstraZeneca going to kill me?” He adds, responding to people’s concerns about the vaccine’s very rare side effect on blood clotting, which is believed to be more prevalent in young people.
Ross puts it this way: “The risk of dying from an AstraZeneca blood clot is literally 1 in a million.”
“If you go out and catch COVID in Sydney right now, you have a 1 in 300 chance of dying. It is 3,000 times more lethal than AstraZeneca.
“Astra Zeneca beats Pfizer in other ways as well,” said Ross. “A study found that against the Delta AstraZeneca strain after 4 months offered better protection than Pfizer.”
AstraZeneca was also better than Pfizer at preventing symptoms, according to this Canadian study [he provides the link to the study in the comments], and those flu effects you get after a vaccine – they’re worse with Pfizer… and that’s according to a survey done at Westmead Hospital.
“The reality is AstraZeneca is no more dangerous than a bunch of other safe and common drugs [like the contraceptive pill and viagra]. “
“But our fear of it will literally devastate the Australian economy needlessly.”
“Every single person who thinks about it and chooses to buy AstraZeneca over Pfizer is literally helping us get out of lockdown sooner.”
“If you can do it, thank you. “
This is quite a different message than what we heard from infectious disease expert Michelle Ananda-Rajah and Grattan Institute director of health and elderly care, Stephen Duckett, the Questions and answers June 1.
When asked by a 31-year-old viewer if he should get vaccinated with AstraZeneca, for the greater good of the country, he was told the following.
Note: it should be noted that it was almost two months ago, in a different context. If he asked again now, July 27, and lived in Sydney, the answer would be, “strongly consider” talking to his GP and getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Infectious disease expert Michelle Ananda-Rajah told her, “My advice is to follow health advice. At the time, it was to get Pfizer if you are under 60.
“In young people, let’s say 20 to 40, 20 to 60 even, the risk of TTS is not really clear, and this is mainly because the countries that have deployed it have in fact suspended the use of AstraZeneca. when they first started seeing the signal in young people. [of getting one of the rare clots] can range from 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 40,000, based on data from Norway and ATAGI’s own data.
“We understand that young people are desperate to get the vaccine – they want to do the right thing, but we urge calm and patience because even if you take AstraZeneca today, your next dose, which you need to give to the Delta strain a knockout blow, will not be for another 12 weeks.
It should be noted here that although the ATAGI recommended interval between dose one and two of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 12 weeks, ATAGI also stated that the shortening of the interval from 12 weeks to no less than four weeks’is acceptable and may be appropriate in certain circumstances‘such as impending travel or anticipated risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Expert Ananda-Rajah added, “In reality, you are not going to get it. [the second AstraZeneca shot] in September, you’re probably going to get it in mid-October and mainly because GPs have a huge backlog of second doses to deliver to patients.
Stephen Duckett, director of health and senior care at the Grattan Institute, said on June 1, in the same episode of Q&A: “If Tristan [the man who asked the question] has his vaccine tomorrow, he will not advance the opening of the border a second.
To see how other countries around the world are using AstraZeneca, the following information from SBS News are very useful.
“The UK was the first to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine in January and initially approved it for adults of all ages. SBS New reports.
“In April, that advisory was updated to over 30 years after the UK medicines safety regulator recorded 79 blood clots and 19 deaths after receiving 20 million doses. This gave an estimated four in a million risk of developing a blood clot, and one in a million deaths. “
“In May, the advisory was further revised to only over 40s able to have the AstraZeneca vaccine after the number rose to 242 cases of coagulation and 49 deaths after 28.5 million doses.”
“But Britain’s access to Pfizer and Moderna alternative vaccines means that all adults can now get the vaccine, and nearly 80% have already received their first dose.”
South Korea has adopted a different tactic. South Korea, being in a different situation than the UK, lifted its over 60 rule in April “to allow anyone under 30 to get AstraZeneca, the Monitoring Agency and disease prevention campaign saying the benefits outweighed the risks. “
The Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico all allow unrestricted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In Germany, having previously limited the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 60, the country now allows anyone over the age of 18 to receive it.
Australia is not the only country to take a more cautious approach, however. SBS New reports: “Italy and Spain also limit the use of AstraZeneca to those over 60, while Denmark and Norway have completely stopped administering the vaccine.”
The bottom line, however, is that each country makes decisions based on the scale of the COVID-19 threat at any given time and what other vaccines are available (and how much).
RMIT Immunologist Dr Kylie Quinn said SBS New the availability of alternative vaccines in a given country, including Australia, was a critical factor.
“When considering whether a drug is approved and recommended in a community, you also need to consider whether there are any alternatives available. “
“For example, is there an alternative available that would be better suited to a particular age group? “
Dr Quinn also said SBS New: “When we are faced with the impacts of COVID-19 in our lives – impacts on health, but also these broader impacts on our ability to open up as a community and to avoid blockages – then that certainly explains the interest increased for obtaining these vaccines, too. “
Like SBS New reported earlier this month: “Until recently, Australia’s slower approach to vaccine deployment could be justified by the lack of community transmission of COVID-19, with most virus leaks coming from of the quarantine of hotels being processed in a few days. “
“Now more than half the country is on lockdown, and last week has seen locally acquired cases in six of the eight states and territories.”
University of Sydney clinical epidemiologist Professor Robert Booy said SBS News: “What we are currently experiencing in Australia are areas of community spread, where people rightly feel in imminent danger.”
“So the balance that we need to address in Australia between risk and benefit has become a priority because we have a potential disease that has a much higher likelihood of hospitalization, coagulation and death. “
He said SBS New the risk of developing a blood clot from COVID-19 itself was around 10 times higher [than that of getting it from the AstraZeneca vaccine].
Professor Booy also said that the Coalition for Immunization is currently developing a risk-benefit calculator to help Australians make informed decisions about getting the vaccine.
“The simple fact is we have the AstraZeneca vaccine which is both safe and effective at almost any age,” he said.
“I think there is too much politics and not enough logic in the current discussion.”
The basics on AstraZeneca, according to Hassan Vally, associate professor at the University of La Trobe, writing for The conversationis that “we have to remember that the AstraZeneca vaccine is a fantastic vaccine”.
“It’s safe and effective, and two doses provide almost complete protection against serious illness and death from COVID, including the Delta variant.”
“It carries a low risk of blood clotting and bleeding, but the risk is incredibly low. COVID is much more of a threat to your health than the vaccine, as we are currently seeing in NSW. “
“If you are under the age of 60, the decision to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine is a decision that only you can make. But if you’re successful, you need to understand that the benefits go beyond just preventing serious illness. “