Shadows and lights of a vaccine that loses credibility

The approval last January by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and marketed by an Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, it was called to become a before and an after in the very slow vaccination campaign that began in December. Its ease of conservation and transport, together with its price – it is marketed without profit – was the necessary push to end the covid-19 pandemic. Three months later, his credibility is at a minimum. But how did we get to this point?

The AstraZeneca vaccine should have accelerated immunization in Europe. Nevertheless, the controversy due to the lack of doses supplied by the pharmacist and, above all, due to the appearance of cases of thrombosis after the puncture keep this preparation under permanent examination.

Finally, this Wednesday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has confirmed a “possible link” between the formulation and “unusual” cases of thrombi, which it considers a “very rare” side effect, although he estimates that the benefit of its use still far outweighs the risk.

This vaccine against covid-19 was outlined as the great European asset to face the pandemic and was, in addition, an example of public and private collaboration in the scientific world by uniting the University of Oxford and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca in the same mission. But this pharmaceutical company, controlled mainly by British capital, was inadvertently engulfed by a Brexit that left a thorny path in relations between Brussels and London.

The government of Boris Johnson needed a victory against the European giant and the environment is suspicious that the pharmaceutical company has been forced to fulfill its supply commitments with Downing Street -It must be recognized that the British regulatory agency gave its approval weeks before its colleagues at the EMA- before with the European Union.

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All these problems have put its credibility has been questioned and it has earned it the growing mistrust on the part of European citizens.

The most used vaccine in the world

In any case, the European preparation is the most used in the world and is administered in 105 countries -including the poorest countries-, followed by the vaccine from Pfizer-BionTech (82) and Moderna (35), according to data published this week by the German portal Statista.

With a technology based on a non-replicating viral vector, This vaccine has some advantages over those of Pfizer and Moderna, from a lower price to a much simpler logistics, since it can be transported and stored between 2 and 8 degrees.

Called Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, until last day 30 it changed its name to Vaxzevria in the EU to regain its credibility, has been questioned not only because its efficacy, at least in clinical trials, it is a little lower than that of its more direct competitors, but because mild reactions after administration would be more frequent than those of Pfizer or Moderna.

Supply problems

It has also not helped that the age groups to which it could be supplied have been modified in some countries. as its effects became known, nor AstraZeneca’s difficulties in complying with the commitments acquired with the European Union to supply the agreed number of doses.

The problems escalated when cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis began to be detected after receiving the vaccine. In mid-March, countries such as Germany, Spain or France decided on a temporary suspension, despite the fact that the EMA assured that it did not see evidence of a direct relationship, although it agreed to continue investigating.

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While some countries continued with vaccination, others such as Norway and Denmark decided to keep the inoculation of that serum on hold.

In recent weeks there has continued to be a drip of cases of thrombosis and although they represent a small proportion compared to the millions of doses administered, the unease and mistrust of the citizens is increasingly evident.

Until March 31, in the United Kingdom there have been 79 cases of thrombi with a low number of platelets, of which 19 died -although in some the cause is unknown-, while in France there are four deaths that could be linked to this serum.

United Kingdom, the country that has opted the most for vaccination with this formula, has decided this Wednesday that It will offer alternatives to those under 30 so that they can choose another preparation.

Meanwhile, from the most scientific point of view, Oxford University decided yesterday to stop clinical trials of the vaccine in children and adolescents, awaiting additional information on cases of thrombosis in adults. And it is urgent to regain confidence in a serum that, as they say from the EMA, its benefits continue to outweigh the risks.

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