New calculation: Risks from AstraZeneca vaccine exceed benefits in people under 30

In my post earlier today, I stated that “it is possible that the risks of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in younger women are greater than the risks from Covid-19 infection”.  This afternoon, the regulator in the UK announced the results of their detailed calculation addressing this question.  

This is the result of their calculation and I have adapted their slide for this post

copied from presentation given at press conference by MHRA 7th April
  • This is how they did their calculation
  • First they obtained the current rate of new Covid-19 infections in the population.
  • They then identified how likely it was that someone with a new infection would be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU)
  • They analysed these data by age
  • They then calculated how many people per 100,000 in each 10 year age group would be admitted to an ICU in a 16 week period  at that rate of infection
  • These rates (the blue boxes) were very low for those age under 30 at less than 1/100,000,  but were much higher for those aged 60-69 at 14/100,000
  • They then calculated what the rates of serious harms would be in those who were vaccinated based on the numbers and ages of the cases reported to date
  • They then estimated how many people per 100,000 who had been vaccinated with one dose would have a serious clotting problem
  • They estimated these rates separately for each 10 year age group would
  • The rates of vaccine problems were highest – at 1/100,000 in those under 30 and lowest at 0.2/100,000 in those 60-69
  • Putting all this together the conclusion is that
    • In those aged 20-29, the risks from the virus and those from the vaccine were similar
    • In those aged 60-69, the risks from the virus were 70 times (ie 14.1 divided by 0.2) higher than those from the vaccine
  • In most other European countries the rate of infection is much higher than in the UK
  • The higher the rate of infection and the more the number of people get infected then more get admitted to ICU, whereas the risks from the vaccine remain the same
  • The consequence is that as the incidence of infection rises, (it is obvious really), the benefits from the vaccine relative to the harms becomes more favourable 

My conclusion:

  • Given the low rates of current infection in the UK it makes sense to use alternative vaccines in those aged under 30
  • The European Medicines Agency has not issued the same advice, they may do so of course in the near future, but with the higher infection rates in EU countries, the benefits from the vaccine are still present for all age groups 

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