Why is this news?
Throughout Europe there is presently crowded with coronavaccins, also in the Netherlands. Maybe it‘s your grandfather and grandma’s turn too. These vaccines come from various medicine factories with names that you have undoubtedly heard of: Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca. Before a vaccine is distributed across countries, it has been extensively tested whether it is safe and whether there are any side effects.
In addition to the fact that this happens at the medicine factories themselves, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also looking at this in Europe. They determine for all countries in the EU whether medicines are safe enough to use. Almost all vaccines went fine, but at AstraZeneca things went a little different. There were reports from several countries that a few people who had just been vaccinated with that vaccine became seriously ill or even died. Research by the EMA now shows that this may be due to the vaccine.
What‘s going on with the people who got sick?
In the Netherlands, around 400,000 Dutch people have so far received the Astrazeneca vaccine. It mainly concerns people between 60 and 64, caregivers and people with, for example, disabilities or obesity. Eight of them had thrombosis after the prick.
To understand exactly what that is, you first need a little bit of biology. Thrombosis doctor Saskia Middelkoop explains to you: “Part of your blood consists of platelets. Together, these platelets form a kind of system in your body that ensures that you don’t lose too much blood if you have a wound. Because that blood needs your body way too much. For example, if you have an abrasion, the platelets with some kind of threads form a clot or clotting in that place. But if you suffer from thrombosis, then the blood clots end up in the wrong places, so that the blood in that place can no longer flow properly.”
Thrombosis is quite common, also as a side effect of other vaccines. But among the people who fell ill after their Astrazeneca prick, something very rare is going on. “The blood clots ended up in their lungs or brains and sometimes in their liver or intestines. These are very dangerous places where such a clot immediately has huge consequences,” says Middelkoop.
But, she says, it‘s important not to get too scared because of this. “The consequences are very serious but the chances of this happening to you are also very small. The risks associated with getting corona are much greater, so the benefits of the vaccine outweigh.”
Who finds what?
Despite the results of their new research, the European Medicines Agency actually says the same thing as Middelkoop. They believe that the benefits of the Astrazeneca vaccine are greater than its drawbacks and that it should therefore be pricked through. However, they believe that people taking the vaccine should be warned of the risks beforehand.
Meanwhile, general practitioners indicate that they are being called flat with questions about the vaccine. In fact, there are two groups: people who are worried and do not want the vaccine anymore. And people who are not yet in turn, who want to take over the vaccines from that other group.
On social media, the risk of AstraZeneca is also compared to the contraceptive pill. If you take it, you’re also at risk of thrombosis. Indeed, out of the 100,000 women taking the pill, 500 to 700 suffer thrombotic symptoms, according to research conducted by the University of Leuven. With the vaccine, eight people out of 400,000 fell ill, a smaller number.
And also the well-known virologist Marion Koopmans reacted to the vaccine fuss. According to her, the risk of dying from this vaccine is as high as the risk of dying from a dog attack or lightning strike.
Dismissionary Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has now decided not to give the Astrazeneca vaccine to people under the age of 60. Most side effects also occur in that group. They are therefore given a different vaccine.
Because of that decision, vaccination plan should be put on the move. We have ordered 11.7 million doses of this vaccine.
De Jonge says that the vaccine can be used “well and safely” in people over 60 years of age. In these people, the risk of dying from corona is much greater than the risk of these side effects.
But then these people have to come and get their shot. Because people‘s trust in AstraZeneca has been hit by all the stories, Daniële Timmers thinks. As a professor, she did research on how to best talk about health risks as a government and what its effect on people.
“ By always talking about the risks, the picture of AstraZeneca remains the less good vaccine. But what I do wantstress is that I notice that a large group, the largest group actually, still indicates that they want the vaccine and take the small risk. The smaller group that is in doubt will help you especially by taking them very seriously and giving good and honest information. If it really is a threshold between whether or not to vaccinate, I would even offer them another vaccine. That’s quite a job, but in the end you want to have as many people as you can. Although, of course, the choice lies in the end with everyone.”