AstraZeneca vaccine: Why we should listen to a grieving sister about 'very, very small' risk of blood clots – Scotsman comment

Assessing risk is not always an easy task, but when it comes to Covid and the AstraZeneca vaccine, it seems fairly simple.

The number of Covid-related deaths in Scotland since the pandemic began has now reached more than 10,000, a grim landmark which means it has claimed the lives of about one in every 545 people in Scotland.

Out of 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 19 people who received it and subsequently died had a blood clot and a low blood-platelet count, although the causes of death have not all been firmly established.

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So, the scale of the threat posed by Covid is far in excess of any risk posed by the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This is the reason why experts like Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, are urging people to continue being inoculated.

He pointed out that people who contract Covid and end up in intensive care have a one in four chance of developing a serious blood clot “which knocks the other risks out of the park, and therefore vaccinating everybody and everybody turning up for their appointments is the crucial message”.

Most regrettably, in recent years there has been a growth in the number of amateur experts who somehow have convinced themselves that they know better and who dream up bizarre conspiracy theories in order to undermine the official advice.

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Dr Alison Astles, the sister of Neil Astles, 59, who died from a blood clot after receiving his first AstraZeneca dose, is urging people to continue to be vaccinated (Picture: BBC News/PA Wire)

They are the sort of people who might seek to exploit the death of Neil Astles, 59, at Royal Liverpool University Hospital from a blood clot believed to have been caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But rather than listening to them, we should heed the words of his grieving sister, Dr Alison Astles, subject leader for pharmacy at the University of Huddersfield.

While saying she was “very angry that this has happened to my brother”, she added: “I still strongly believe that people should go ahead and have the vaccine… Overall, we will save more lives by people having the vaccine than not. The risk of a clot is very, very small and my brother was extraordinarily unlucky.”

The Covid vaccines, AstraZeneca included, are saving lives and helping to bring this terrible crisis to an end. We must guard against any rising tide of misunderstanding of risk that could endanger that process.

Any risk posed by the AstraZeneca vaccine is tiny compared to the danger of Covid-19 (Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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