Reviving AstraZeneca’s Stocks Is a Matter of Confidence

August 16, 2021 Updated: August 17, 2021

Commentary

Australian chief medical officers have embarked on a campaign to rehabilitate the AstraZeneca vaccine as a suitable COVID-19 jab.

The vaccine lost much of its reputational shine when it was disclosed in the media that there had been several deaths from blood clotting issues after vaccinations. The blood clotting issue involves thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the total number of confirmed and probable TTS cases in Australia is currently at 83 out of 5.4 million doses.

The campaigners point out that the risk of blood clotting is only one out of 250,000 AstraZeneca jabs, whereas blood clotting for women who take contraception is one out of 1,000.

Professor Adam Taylor, director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre at the Lancaster University, concluded that:

With this in mind, it’s worth remembering that while there is a small risk of clotting in some individuals who take the AstraZeneca vaccine, this clotting risk is much less than with many other things, including contraceptive pills—and significantly less than the risk of clotting after a COVID-19 infection.

Subject to the validity of this information, the next question should be why people distrust AstraZeneca?

Of course, a simple answer to this question would focus on the undisputed power of the media to indoctrinate people with a particular message and its ability to exacerbate any problems experienced with the AstraZeneca vaccine, thereby sowing doubt in the populace.

However, a better explanation is that people, especially seniors, have come to believe that there is a more suitable, and possibly better vaccine available, namely Pfizer and Moderna.

Although these vaccines—like any other vaccine—also have possible side effects, they do not seem to engender the blood clotting problems of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Hence, many people have come to regard Pfizer as the gold standard in the COVID-19 jungle.

More importantly, there is a logical error in comparing the blood clotting side effects of AstraZeneca and the contraceptive pill.

The error lies in comparing two treatments that are not comparable: one is an inoculation, the other is a pill used for entirely different purposes.

Oxford/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Antwerp
A medical worker prepares a dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Antwerp, Belgium, on March 18, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

But in the case of vaccines, since both Pfizer and AstraZeneca are used for the same purpose of inoculating people against the COVID-19 virus, it is possible to compare them.

Meanwhile, one of the most frustrating things surrounding the contentious vaccine debate is the existence of many different and inconsistent opinions and advice.

One specialist doctor may tell a person that AstraZeneca is a potentially unsafe vaccine. However, other professionals may point to the negligible risk of taking the AstraZeneca jab compared with its huge potential benefits.

If the medical fraternity does not consistently convey the medical advice, it is no wonder that people are losing confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine and are hesitant.

Also, it does not help that the shambolic rollout of the vaccines in Australia is a textbook example of how it should not be done.

These issues are debated heatedly in Australia and overseas.

When I was debating this issue with a concerned citizen—not a member of the medical profession—he told me that a vaccine must adhere to ten characteristics for it to be used with confidence.

There are five medical requirements: (i) the vaccine must result in a measurable reduction in the number of sick people afflicted with the COVID-19 virus, (ii) the vaccine must be capable of protecting recipients for a significant time, thereby possibly avoiding booster shots, (iii) the vaccine should have few negative side effects, (iv) the vaccine must be effective against newer variants of the virus, and (v) the vaccine must substantially reduce transmission rates.

There are four logistical requirements: (i) a low cost to produce the vaccine, (ii) the vaccine can be produced quickly on the required scale, (iii) the vaccine can be efficiently distributed, and (iv) it should be easy to administer.

Perhaps the most important requirement is that the vaccine must have the public’s trust and trust from the medical and political communities.

Obviously, the AstraZeneca vaccine has struggled to meet this final requirement of trust.

Fortunately for AstraZeneca, “trust” is malleable and can be influenced by a rational discussion on the issue, which is what chief medical officers are trying to achieve with their current campaign.

Epoch Times Photo
Adam Feller reacts as he gets his Pfizer-BioNTech shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on May 13, 2021, in Montreal. Quebec has become the latest province to stop giving Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot as a first dose. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

But right now, even members of the medical fraternity are bewildered and do not know what to think and are giving conflicting advice to patients.

Of course, this debate is not helped by continuing uncertainty about the origins of the vaccine.

A report by U.S. Republicans on Aug. 2, 2021, concluded that “A preponderance of evidence proves the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic leaked from a Chinese research facility.”

It added that the “Wuhan Institute of Virology … scientists—aided by U.S. experts and Chinese and U.S. government funds—were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.”

The World Health Organisation-backed investigation into the virus has also yielded questionable results, with the WHO head of the mission to investigate the outbreak saying he believed it also probable that the transmission source was from the research ongoing in the Wuhan Institute.

Ultimately, the virus has succeeded beyond all expectations: it struck a blow to democracy by undermining the rights and freedoms of people and wrecking the economies of the free world.

In such an environment, it is little wonder that people have come to distrust the proposed remedy to COVID-19 infection, particularly given the origins are still obscure.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriël Moens
Gabriël Moens
Professor Gabriël A. Moens AM is an emeritus professor of law at The University of Queensland, and served as pro vice-chancellor, dean, and professor of law at Murdoch University. He has published a novel about the origins of the COVID-19 disease, “A Twisted Choice,” and recently published a short story, “The Greedy Prospector,” in an Anthology of short stories, “The Outback” (Boolarong Press, 2021).