AstraZeneca vaccine, Remuzzi: “Safer than aspirin”

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AstraZeneca vaccine? “Safer than many other drugs,” Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Irccs Pharmacological Research Institute told Health, pointing out that people have “a tendency to associate every death in the days following the vaccine with the vaccine. vaccination”. “We always think about the data: in Italy around 1,800 people die every day. Even if we suddenly vaccinated all Italians, 1,800 people would die, whose deaths are not attributable to the vaccine. At the moment there is no vaccine. no evidence that vaccines cause more deaths than expected from any cause, including thrombosis“.

“Let’s look at the data: in Great Britain on January 8 they were traveling at the rate of 59 thousand Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus infections and 1,241 deaths, on April 7 they are at a weekly average of 3,072 infections and 31 deaths. In Italy on January 8 we were at 16,666 infections with 760 deaths and as of April 7 we are at 16,499 infections and 433 deaths. This gives an idea of ​​how important it is to have had vaccines, of how much they save thousands of lives. And then there are the side effects of vaccines: in general there is no increase in either deaths or thrombosis, or anything else related to vaccination. Suspected deaths related to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Italy are 10 out of 2 million, this is the average value. They are therefore 0.0005% of the total “.

For Remuzzi “it is right that people know about the rare forms of thrombosis observed. But also that they are aware of the fact that the frequency of vaccine-related events of this type is rarer than any other complication associated with any drug. The vaccine is safer than aspirin, any antibiotic, antiarrhythmic, antihypertensive. There is a higher risk of death for drugs in all of these categories than there is with the AstraZeneca vaccine.. But none of those who take an antiarrhythmic stop because they can die from the drug because death from arrhythmia is so frequent that it is better to use the available therapies to counteract it. “

There are therefore some things that, Remuzzi observes, we must keep in mind and the first is “the almost miraculous fact that in a very short time we have 4 vaccines ready to be administered and then that the vaccination campaign has already begun all over the world. vaccines that protect 100% from severe disease and Britain has shown that a substantial part of the population can be rapidly immunized with a single dose, leading to a dramatic reduction in the need for hospital occupancy and reducing the number of deaths a few dozen, even zero in a few days “.

“In Italy, where we managed to immunize only a small part of the population, we are still at the number of deaths we had before. So we have to use vaccines and in real life they are extremely effective in fighting the disease. Let’s not forget that even today the best vaccine is what you get, because the benefits are so great and the adverse events so rare that the benefit outweighs the risks, “he continues. “Today we talk about this problem with AstraZeneca that we do not know if it will also occur with other viral vector vaccines and that has not emerged with certainty at the moment in the other vaccines. It is an extremely rare condition that in Germany has been defined as immune thrombocytopenia vaccine induced: the number of platelets in the blood is lowered and thrombosis of the cerebral venous sinus and thrombosis of the splanchnic venous circulation of the intestine occur “.

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In Europe “there is talk of 169 cases of the first manifestation and 53 of the second out of 34 million vaccinated people: it is a very rare event and occurred with the first dose. For now there is no evidence that it can occur with the second dose. So everyone who has successfully received the first dose of AstraZeneca must also take the second dose with this vaccine, regardless of age. “

These events, Remuzzi insisted, “have been seen above all in young people and various countries around the world have decided to preferentially vaccinate young people with Pfizer and Moderna and older people with AstraZeneca. The problem does not actually arise in Italy, because now we have to vaccinate the over 70s with everything we have available. We must complete this vaccination as soon as possible as in GB and it is perfectly fine to decide to offer AstraZeneca to the over 70s. Doing so will take us out of this disaster “.

Why talk about such rare cases of vaccine adverse events? “In the first place – replies Remuzzi – because people must always be told the truth. Trust in vaccines is built by saying things as they always are. Secondly because we understand what happens. It is something that looks like another rare disease , but much more frequent, heparin-induced: antibodies are formed which also bind to platelets and cause a very rare phenomenon. It is important for people to know that if they have certain symptoms between 4 and 10 days after vaccination – symptoms such as bruising, bruising, severe headache, unexplained abdominal pain – this diagnosis can be made easily. “

And, adds the expert, “there is a cure, probably based on high-dose immunoglobulin as is done for transplant rejection. A cure available in all hospitals. So it is right that people know. There is a cure. Johns Hopkins University’s work that showed how cerebral venous sinus thrombosis normally occurs in one in 200,000 people of all ages, it is not that they do not happen to those who do not get the vaccine and they are more frequent. But those from vaccines seemed to be in a particular age group, especially young women. Today this data is put into question a little. And here again why it is good for the scientific community to take care of it: because if we also knew the factors that predispose to these rare events we could avoid giving that vaccine selectively to those people with a very rare predisposition. “

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