Did Ireland make the right decision to suspend the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine? And when will the rollout start again?
Following Ireland's decision to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jabs over a small number of patients suffering blood clots after being vaccinated a review of the vaccine by the European Medicine's Agency concluded that the vaccine is “safe and effective for use.”
It said its investigation had shown the vaccine to be “safe and effective” and confirmed that its benefits outweigh any possible risks.
The Health Protection Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) are now discussing the recommendation.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Professor of Experimental Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin Kingston Mills said:
"I think people really are fed up and would like to plan. We need to be more imaginative about opening up society.
"We haven't embraced screening systems like the UK – rapid antigen testing that can be done twice a week that can pick up infections. It's not as effective as PCR testing but it's something."
Speaking also on the topic was David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the UK Department of Health until 2013:
"I think the balance that everyone had to look at was this risk real and associated with the vaccine and was it actually occurring at a frequency that was sufficient to justify the action of stopping the vaccination. Stopping the vaccination had consequences – I think the data that was available in this country was that the rate of this event did not appear to be higher in vaccinated people.
"My call would have been don't stop the vaccination programme. Unless the risk is indeed elevated, you might have more harm stopping the programme."
Kingston shared the same opinion, commenting:
"I have sympathy with that view indeed. There's always an issue of public confidence in the vaccine and pulling it will always make people sit up and wonder.
"I suppose the big issue is that we're part of the EU and the UK isn't and there's a bit of a sheep-like approach to this sometimes and you can't blame the authorities. They followed a number of other countries to do it. I agree that the benefits certainly outweigh any risks.
"But, having said that what the EMA said was that their review into the blood clots was inconclusive. The risk of serious illness is far greater than the side effects."
According to the HSE, most of the 30,000 people affected by the AstraZeneca pause could be vaccinated next week.
Health officials are due to give an update on the use of the jab in Ireland later today.
Main image: A member of NHS staff prepares the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)