What is it about?

The successful development of COVID-19 vaccines brought new hope last year. Their release kicked off huge vaccination drives across the world. Sadly, in March 2021, this hope was quashed. Reports of a few vaccinated patients developing blood clots came to light. These patients later died of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Hence, many European countries had to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Their decision, especially when viewed in the context of an emergency like the pandemic, raised an important question. What could cause more deaths: COVID-19 spreading among the unvaccinated, or the side effects from the vaccine? The authors of a study done in 2021 aimed to find an answer to this question. They carried out a risk-benefit analysis using a method called Fermi estimation. Using data from the vaccination drives in France and Italy, they compared the excess deaths caused due to DVT linked to the vaccine, versus the deaths caused due to a reduction in vaccinations. The authors found that the number of excess deaths from the interruption in vaccinations was much larger than those from DVT. The benefits of vaccination clearly outweighed the reported risks.

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Why is it important?

The COVID-19 pandemic presented the world with a bizarre crisis. In times like these, deciding the right health care measures can become quite tricky. This is especially true when problems like the AstraZeneca case arise. Leaders, too, are uncertain, given the unique nature of this situation. What will the outcome of their decisions be? That is where studies like this come in. Their analyses help formulate public health strategies backed by solid information. Their insights simplify the complex nature of disease like COVID-19, and provide estimations that could help settle the debate around vaccination. KEY TAKEAWAY: Estimations show that the benefit of continuing vaccination against COVID-19 outweighs the risk posed by a vaccine's side effects, namely DVT. Moreover, repairing the damage caused due to missed vaccinations may become more difficult as time passes.

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This page is a summary of: Interrupting vaccination policies can greatly spread SARS-CoV-2 and enhance mortality from COVID-19 disease: The AstraZeneca case for France and Italy, Chaos An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, April 2021, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0050887.
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