Can you spot the difference?

Yes, quite right the first photo is Ron and the second is Lockdown Ron

I make no apology for my home haircut and beard. They were quite liberating in a funny sort of way.

I did try a full beard but ended up looking like Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) of Only Fools and Horses fame and thought, “Nah!”. It hides my boyish charm and natural good looks so I went for a more bookish look.

Didn’t work did it? Never mind at least I can hide behind a mask if I go out.

Speaking of which I have not been out except for visits to my GP surgery and two hospitals. Also a visit to my local pharmacy for my first Covid vaccination. 

Like you I have been reading the recent reports of various countries pausing use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and wonder what your opinion is on the matter. This leaves me with a question which is:

Have we been short-changed in the rush to get everyone vaccinated speedily?

Are you worried about the emerging news that several countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

This was the vaccine I received at the end of January and I am due my next shot in April. Was I glad to get it – you betcha! In addition to the protection it may provide me and all those I may come into contact with, it also gives me hope that I will be able to get back to doing what I love. This is my voluntary work and meeting my workmates and fellow patients when they call in to the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre on a Friday morning or we meet up at one of  Jane Batchelor’s events or the Diabetic Lay Panel meetings. At least the online meetings keeps us in touch and we are still able to function. Nothing replaces the face to face meetings we have with our colleagues and friends though.

Everyone who knows me will know that I am not a medic and I am most certainly no statistician but, as I understand it ,out of 17 million people vaccinated with the Oxford AstraZeneca 37 people have been found to have had ‘thromboembolic events’ (blood clots). Although sad for those affected, this seems to me to be a very small number and I have not come across any actual evidence that the vaccination actually caused it. 

Out of 17 million people there must be a percentage of those who would have succumbed to this disease or some other affliction no matter what their vaccination status was. Indeed the numbers being cited seem to me to be very low indeed but as mentioned I am no statistician. Could it be that the vaccine is actually suppressing these events and is the good guy here?  Until evidence shows something different this is what I choose to believe. 

If I take a real world and personal look at this problem I know that I certainly have several medical reasons to be at risk of suffering a stroke. If I died shortly after receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccination this would have been recorded as a death following the jab and I would probably form part of the record of deaths following vaccination. In my case it would be far more likely that I died from an existing medical condition and it would not be right to attribute it to any vaccine.

Why are all these countries raising doubts about the vaccine despite lack of valid evidence? Could it be for political reasons or sour grapes? If so then shame on them for unnecessarily exposing their populations to risks for longer than necessary. The more people receiving the jab the better. It makes it safer for all of us, Nan, Grandad, Mum, Dad and all our Children and Grandchildren too  so please take up your offer when it comes.

To answer to my own question “have we been short-changed in the rush to get everyone vaccinated speedily” I would say NO!  emphatically NO!  All of the current vaccines were properly tested with the usual strict controls and were carefully considered before authorised as will all the new ones in the pipeline. The only difference with these vaccines is that the usual very lengthy procedures have been shortened by safely overlapping the various stages and steps to cut out unnecessary delays.

I have seen first-hand the procedures and many of the hoops Clinical Research Centres have to go through before permissions are given and believe me when I say that I am absolutely certain that the doctors and clinical research teams I know would follow the procedure (they call it the protocol) to the letter and not knowingly put their patients at risk. With regard to this Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine a certain doctor I know volunteered for the clinical trial and he was given two jabs of the actual vaccine. Since then he has worked normally and during this time two members of the team have succumbed to Covid. Thankfully they have recovered and I wish them well.

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