WOULD TAKE IT: Vaccine researcher Even Fossum says he had taken the AstraZeneca vaccine even though it has a small risk of serious side effects, but is less sure if he would recommend his loved ones to take it. Photo: Ingvild Gjerdsjø / TV 2
In a post on The vaccine blog Earlier this week, Fossum writes that although infection in Norway is increasing, there is still little or no infection in large parts of the country.
– Having to vaccinate with the AstraZeneca vaccine in these regions will thus not necessarily prevent serious covid-19 cases, but could lead to serious side effects, he writes.
In connection with Easter, stricter measures have been introduced throughout the country, and this will probably lead to a reduction in infection.
Even though we have new virus variants, it is likely that the summer months will contribute to lower infection pressure, Fossum states.
– There is again a risk that we use the AstraZeneca vaccine during a period of low infection pressure, and are mainly left with the potential side effects, the vaccine researcher writes.
Risk vs. utility
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) believes that the usefulness of the vaccine outweighs the risk and recommends continued use of the vaccine. They have repeatedly said that it is safe and effective.
Fossum believes that risk and benefit assessments are fluid, and they vary from country to country depending on how the infection pressure is.
– If the Norwegian health service knelt, would you have meant anything else then?
– I had enough. The tolerance for side effects will be higher if there is a very high infection pressure and the health service would have had major problems, says Fossum.
The fact that the Norwegian vaccine program will not be extensively delayed if the AstraZenca vaccine is dropped, he also believes is an argument for not having to use the vaccine.
– Vaccines must be safe and they must be given to healthy people. It is important that the population feels that it is safe to get vaccinated, says Fossum.
He believes that serious side effects can undermine confidence in coronary vaccines in general and in the worst case lead to lower vaccine coverage in the long run.
Different practices in the Nordic countries
Denmark has chosen to pause the vaccination with AstraZeneca for another three weeks because they have not come to any conclusion from the examinations they have done so far.
On Thursday, Iceland resumed vaccination with AstraZeneca after they put it on pause the same day as Norway and Denmark.
In Sweden and Finland, the vaccine has been paused for people under 65 years of age. Those over the age of 65 will be offered the vaccine.
– The vaccine does much greater good for the elderly. Many people get very sick with covid-19 every day. At the same time, we have not seen a risk of rare and serious side effects in the elderly, says director Johan Carlson of the Public Health Authority about the decision.
Although the EMA has stated that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, the evaluation of the vaccine continues.
This weekend, an expert group will gather to provide input on the assessment of whether the vaccine leads to an increased risk of blood clots, including special cases where patients also have few platelets, the EMA states in a press release.