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May. 8, 2021 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Science should dictate vaccine decisions

Dear editor:

I am writing in response to Tom Thornton's letter, "Why opt for vaccine only 62% effective," (March 11) regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sometimes a selective presentation of data can be misleading

The efficacy rate of a vaccine in a clinical trial does not actually predict its effectiveness in the population that is being immunized in the real world. The reason for this is quite simple: in the clinical trial there are very strict criteria for enrolment, whereas in the general population these criteria do not necessarily apply.

A recently published study in the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet in the United Kingdom showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine had a real world effectiveness of 82 per cent after two doses. This led the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on March 16 to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for persons over 65 as being effective.

Furthermore, this vaccine is effective against the B.1.1.7 variant, which is becoming the predominant variant in the U.S. It is predicted that, unless immunizations accelerate, this variant will become the more dominant version and it could lead to a 64 per cent increase in deaths.

As we enter our third wave of the pandemic in Ontario the most effective public health goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to not only prevent the original virus from spreading but the new variant as well.

If, for any reason, any of the 40 million doses of Moderna vaccine ordered by the Canadian government were to be delayed in their delivery to Canada, this would slow down our national vaccination rate. If, however, an Astra Zeneca vaccine is available, would it not make sense from a public health standpoint to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible?

If our rule is to achieve heard immunity as quickly as possible then we need to do a better job vaccinating more people more quickly.

When recently asked which vaccine he would accept if it were offered to him, Dr. Anthony Fauci responded: "I would take the one that’s offered to me."

Given that the AstraZeneca vaccine showed it was able to prevent hospitalization in 100 per cent of cases of people who are vaccinated, does it not make sense to use it if it is available?

By presenting all the facts in a clear and concise manner perhaps we can avoid maligning the politicians who are trying their best to follow the science. Should the science not dictate their decisions?

Robin Jinchereau