Luke O'Neill explains how AstraZeneca vaccine could speed up vaccination times


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.53 14 Jan 2021


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Professor Luke O'Neill says there've been no reports of severe allergic reactions with the AstraZeneca / Oxford University coronavirus vaccine - which means it could help speed up vaccination times.

The jab - which is currently being considered for approval in the EU - is already easier to store than other available vaccines, as it does not need to be kept in ultra low temperatures.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today said if the vaccine is approved as expected on January 29th the State will be able to double the rate of vaccination to around 100,000 doses per week.

However, the evidence so far shows there could also be a faster turnaround time for those receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

With the Pfizer vaccine, doctors have recommend a 15-minute observation period after a very small number of people had severe allergic reactions.

However, Professor O'Neill - immunologist at Trinity College - says that hasn't been seen in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Luke O'Neill explains how AstraZeneca vaccine could speed up vaccination times

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He explained: “There’s no allergic reactions yet reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is good. It’s rare with the Pfizer, but it was seen in a small number of people.

“AstraZeneca have said there’s no need to wait… as soon as you have the vaccine you can leave. That’s a big effect, because the [time per patient] can be much faster.

“Waiting for 15 minutes is a bit of a chore, especially in a GP’s surgery… if we don’t need to do that, then it makes it more convenient.

“In the UK, GPs are now doing the vaccinations more and more, and pharmacies are about to start.”

Initial trials have shown the AstraZeneca vaccine to have a slightly lower efficacy than the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, at around 60-70%.

However, Professor O'Neill reassured people that's still a very effective rate.

He said: "They're all good... AstraZeneca may well get to 80%-90%... one of the trials did get to 90%."

Pets and the pandemic

Elsewhere, Professor O'Neill highlighted research showing a surprising side effect of the pandemic on pets.

He said: “There’s a big study just out showing obesity could be a risk factor for pets during the pandemic… 71% of vets say they’re worried about pets putting on weight.

“It’s a risk factor for many diseases in animals, just as it is in humans.

“It was mainly to do with people being at home, and giving their pets too many treats.

“People thought they might be putting on less weight because of all the exercise, but that doesn’t seem to be the case."

He said people giving their pets too many 'scraps from the table' is another potential factor in pets' unexpected weight gain.

Main image: File photo of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture by: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

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