Now that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is available to volunteers in Malaysia, is it SAFE to take?
Find out what’s the risk of getting blood clots, and the risk-benefit analysis for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Malaysia!
AstraZeneca Vaccine In Malaysia : Why People Think It’s Not Safe
Scientists are now quite certain that the AstraZeneca vaccine can induce a rare side effect with a variety of names :
- Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)
- Vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) or even
- Vaccine-induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT).
In a very small number of cases, the AstraZeneca vaccine can trigger the immune system to create anti-PF4 (Anti-Platelet Factor 4) antibodies.
These anti-PF4 antibodies attack the platelets, causing them to clump together and blood clots to form.
Patients who develop these blood clots will complain of these symptoms 4 to 30 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine :
- Severe headache that
– does not improve with simple painkillers
– gets worse when lying down
- Neurological changes
– blurred vision
– speech difficulties
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Leg pain or swelling
- Petechiae (tiny blood spots under the skin)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
AstraZeneca Vaccine In Malaysia : Is It Safe To Get?
The risk of getting thrombotic thrombocytopenia from the AstraZeneca vaccine is exceedingly small.
Blood clots can also develop (through different mechanisms) with smoking and the use of oral contraceptive pills (OCP).
We created this table to better demonstrate the risk to you.
severe COVID-19 cases
|Up to 95%||45,238X|
in COVID-19 cases
|Up to 41%||19,524X|
|Dying from COVID-19 Infection||0.25% to
|119X to 4762X|
|Thrombosis from OCP
|Up to 0.46%||219X|
|Thrombosis from Smoking||0.18%||85.7X|
|Thrombosis from OCP
|Up to 0.01%||4.8X|
So, is it safe to get the AstraZeneca vaccine that’s being offered to people age 18 years and above in Malaysia?
We can only tell you that the risk is exceedingly low. At most, 21 out of 1 million people who receive this vaccine will potentially develop this condition.
Based on the risk-benefit analysis performed by the EMA Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), it is obvious that for a high-incidence country like Malaysia, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
More importantly, that we are aware of this particular side effect, both doctors and vaccine recipients can look out for the symptoms and quickly seek treatment.
For those who want the details of this CHMP risk-benefit analysis, please scroll down.
AstraZeneca Vaccine May Be Safe, But I Work From Home!
For adults less than 60 years in age who are still worried about the risk, you can consider your risk profile.
Low Risk Profile
- You are working from home, or have little to no contact with strangers
- It may be safe to wait until your turn comes for the other COVID-19 vaccines.
High Risk Profile
- You need to work with other people, travel, or meet clients
- It is probably better to get vaccinated as soon as you can.
For adults who are 60 years and older, the benefits vastly exceeds the risk. There is simply no reason not to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, whether you are always sheltering at home or go out very often.
Recommended : AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine : How To Register For It!
Is AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Safe, Why 60 Year Old Limit?
You may have noticed that many countries like Germany, Ireland and Italy are recommending that the AstraZeneca vaccine be used for people who are 60 years or older.
This is because the initial CHMP assessment report (see below) showed that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks for the age groups of 60 years and above in the worst case scenario.
Hence, out of an abundance of caution and because they have alternative vaccines, they are limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people who are 60 years and older.
This assessment was based on a very low incidence rate – just 55 people infected out of 100,000 people, so it is not reflective of the real world situation in many countries.
AstraZeneca Vaccine Risk Assessment : High Risk Scenario
While the low COVID-19 exposure risk assessment is great for a “worst case scenario”, it is not representative of the real world situation.
So let’s take a look at the CHMP’s high exposure scenario which uses a COVID-19 incidence rate of 0.88%.
That is frankly much lower than the incidence rate in many countries. Malaysia right now has an incidence rate of about 1.3%, while India has an incidence rate of 1.4% and increasing.
But it will gives us a better idea of the benefits versus the risks.
This visual representation of the risk of getting blood clots versus the number of COVID-19 hospitalisations prevented by the vaccine makes it easier to do the risk-benefit analysis.
It is pretty obvious, that the benefits easily outweigh the risks at all age groups, when it comes to preventing hospitalisations.
When it comes to preventing ICU admissions (severe COVID-19 cases), the data shows that the benefits far outweigh the risks for all age groups.
And this is arguably, the most important criteria – preventing deaths. In this case, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks for 40 years and above.
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