The Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, pictured being administered in Morocco in January. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
A local senior health official has expressed her confidence in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine despite recent reports about the drug getting some push back in European countries.
Multiple international media outlets have reported recently that some doctors given the drug suffered effects in France after getting the vaccine.
UK publication The Sunday Times reported last week that in Italy private doctors “lining up for a vaccine in Italy were similarly dismissive of the vaccine’s potential, with some demanding a dose of Pfizer instead of AstraZeneca.”
Commenting on the news coming out of Europe, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health Dr Nikkiah Forbes told The Tribune yesterday that not everyone will get side-effects.
“The flu-like symptoms are known adverse effects that can happen with these vaccines, but you have to consider that most people who get these vaccines will not have adverse effects,” she explained.
“So up to eight percent of participants in that particular phase, three randomised controlled trials by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca trial... symptoms that were reported what you would consider... headache and fever.
“The participants that got side effects in these trials were in the minority. The minority experiencing effects appears to be demonstrated when looking at data of the doctors that suffered side effects out of the many batches who were vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times also reported: “France has put medical staff on alert after doctors suffered ‘high-intensity flu symptoms’ following the first dose.
“In the first four days the vaccine was administered last week, 149 cases of strong symptoms were reported by staff who had to stop work to recover, according to ANSM, the national medicines safety agency.
“The recipients, with an average age of 34, reported high temperature, aches and headaches. So far 10,000 health care personnel have been vaccinated.”
The publication also said: “The state news radio station France Info reported they were ‘trying to avoid receiving AstraZeneca doses, which they regard as third rate compared with ‘the Rolls-Royce’ produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.’”
In spite of some public hesitation about vaccines, Dr Forbes said the risk versus benefits should be considered.
She added: “So COVID-19 is something that nobody should want to get. You just don’t know what will happen. . .and so vaccines are always about a risk versus a benefit.
“...There’s always a risk versus a benefit and the benefit is that you are far less likely to get SARS-COV-2 or symptomatic COVID-19 and end up in hospital or dying.”
The government previously announced that the first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should arrive in the country between this month and the end of the second quarter of the year.