COVID19 update, Ides of March Edition: the Oxford/AstraZeneca fustercluck redux

The EU’s medical head honchos, in their eagerness to contain costs, placed a lot of stock on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because of its low per-unit cost — and now AstraZeneca is having trouble producing even a fraction of the promised doses. De Standaard (in Dutch) reports that on the continent, only one plant in Belgium is currently actually producing: other facilities are awaiting production approval from EU bureaucrats. (Two plants in the UK are rolling out doses for local use.)

As if this wasn’t enough of a disaster, following multiple isolated reports of blood clots following AstraZeneca shots, a total of twelve countries (including Germany, France, and Italy) have suspended the use of the AZ vaccines until the EMA (European Medicines Agency, the EU’s counterpart for the “D” in FDA) rules on the matter.

According to the Daily Telegraph’s liveblog at 5:37 pm:

The European Union’s medical regulator again insisted the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the potential side effects.

A European Medicines Agency statement said: “Events involving blood clots, some with unusual features such as low numbers of platelets, have occurred in a very small number of people who received the vaccine.

“Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons. The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”

The regulator is working with UK counterparts at the MHRA, experts in blood disorders and AstraZeneca as part of a review.

The EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) will further review the information on Tuesday and has called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday to conclude on the information gathered and any further actions that may need to be taken.

This tweet from the Grauniad/the Daily W*nker/al-Guardian emphatically did not age well (via Instapundit):

In fact, as Dr. Campbell points out in his video, about one-third of people in the UK have gotten at least one shot so far, ten times as many as in much of Europe. Brexit was worth it for that alone.

On an amusing note, one British overseas territory unseated Israel as the holder of the highest vaccination percentage: the tiny population of Gibraltar.

Today is the middle of the month of March, what the Romans called the “Ides” of March. Famously, Julius Caesar met his nemesis on that day. “Et tu, Brute?” Some people may have heard of a funk band by that name, — the bassist had read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in school and thought it was a cool name. They had one big hit in 1970 with the song “Vehicle”: I cannot resist including this hi-res cover by Leonid Vorobyev and friends below. Enjoy, and stay healthy and safe!

ADDENDUM: here is Dr. Campbell again with an update

TL; DR: he went through the statistics on blood clots in the general population, and concluded that the number of thrombotic event among the vaccinated is comparable to, or less than, what the same number of people over the same amount of time would experience without a vaccine. “The signal does not exceed the background noise”, as I’d summarize it.

2 thoughts on “COVID19 update, Ides of March Edition: the Oxford/AstraZeneca fustercluck redux

    • “Flemish” (or “Zuid-Nederlands” as we were taught to call it) refers to the cluster of dialects spoken in Flanders. NOBODY in Flanders refers to the WRITTEN language as “Vlaams” —- I’m old enough that I still remember standard Dutch being referred to _in Flanders_ ! as well as the Netherlands as ABN=“algemeen beschaafd [!] Nederlands” (common _civilized_ Dutch) 🙂

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