Day: 6 April 2021

Child Jabs Halted in Trial as Adult Clot Link Probed

Concern over the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots has led to the halting of trials of the jab on children aged six to 17. The BBC has the story.

A trial of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on children has stopped giving out jabs while the UK’s medicines regulator investigates a possible link with rare blood clots in adults.

Professor Andrew Pollard from the University of Oxford told the BBC there were no safety concerns with the trial itself, but its scientists were waiting for further information.

Around 300 volunteers signed up.

Earlier, PM Boris Johnson said people should get their jab when invited.

More than 31.6 million people in the UK have had a first vaccine dose.

A total of 5.4 million people have received a second dose.

Two vaccines – developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer – are being used in the UK, while a third – from Moderna – has been approved.

The trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine on children, which started in February, is assessing whether the jab produces a strong immune response in those aged between six and 17.

Its suspension comes after a European Medicines Agency (EMA) official, speaking in a personal capacity, said there appeared to be a link with the jab and rare blood clots.

Confirming that the trial on children was being paused, Prof Pollard said: “Whilst there are no safety concerns in the paediatric clinical trial, we await additional information from the MHRA on its review of rare cases of thrombosis/thrombocytopaenia that have been reported in adults, before giving any further vaccinations in the trial.”

Participants are advised to continue to attend all scheduled visits and can contact the trial sites if they have any questions.

The Chair of the European Medicines Agency’s vaccine evaluation team has said there is a connection between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, although the exact cause of the adverse reaction remains uncertain. Meanwhile, the MHRA is being urged to consider restricting the rollout of the jab due to the occurrence of blood clots in younger people – especially young women.

The BBC’s report is worth reading in full.

Secondary School Pupils Must Continue to Wear Face Masks in Lessons After Easter

The long-awaited return of children to the classroom last month did not lead to a surge in Covid infections, and the “vast majority” of positive test results in schools are likely to be false, according to reports. But the Department for Education (DfE), following a review, has not changed its guidance about secondary school pupils in England being advised to wear face masks in classrooms, as well as in communal areas. The Telegraph has the story.

Face masks in the classroom are to stay in place after the Easter holidays, the Government has announced, despite low Covid rates among school pupils.

Secondary students should continue to wear masks when they return to school for the summer term, in both lessons and corridors, as a “precautionary measure”, officials at the DfE said.

They explained that the policy will now be dropped as part of stage three of the roadmap out of restrictions, which will happen no earlier than May 17th. 

Ministers have been accused of “betraying” children by continuing to insist on face masks in the classroom during the summer term, given the “serious harms” that they are potentially causing.

The UsForThem organisation, which campaigns against intrusive social distancing and mask-wearing measures in schools, is consulting its lawyers about this latest announcement.

Molly Kingsley, the co-founder of the group, has said: “It’s really disappointing that this measure remains in place for frankly a day longer given that there seems to have been no assessment of the harms it causes.”

We believe that the detriment to children of this measure is potentially serious and ongoing. It was not clear which evidence the introduction of this measure was based on, nor what evidence is that supports it still being in place.

This measure is manifestly not in the best interests of children. We were told it was a temporary measure, and it is another example of the Government moving the goalposts and yet another betrayal of children.

Worth reading in full.

Isolating People Won’t Protect Them From Pathogens in the Long Run

Today we’re publishing an original piece by John Tamny, a Vice President at FreedomWorks, editor of RealClearMarkets, and the author of the newly released book, When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason. In the following extract, he describes how the opposite of isolating people in their homes – opening the world up and making it easier for people to bump into each other – has helped reduce our vulnerability to disease.

Oxford professor Sunetra Gupta, one of the authors of The Great Barrington Declaration, has long argued that globalisation’s genius has been understated. It’s not just that the division of labour has enabled relentless specialisation among the world’s workers, it’s not just that people ‘bumping into each other’ have spread ideas and processes that have driven even greater economic advancement that has easily been the greatest foe of disease and death, globalisation has also fostered a great deal of physical, in-person interaction among productive, specialised people increasingly possessing the means to see the globe.

As a consequence they haven’t just seen the world. In a health sense, they’ve spread viruses around the world. With more and more of the world’s inhabitants moving around the globe, so have viruses. The spreading hasn’t weakened the global population, rather it’s strengthened it. Immunity is most notably achieved naturally, and it’s achieved much more quickly when people are constantly interacting with other people.

worth reading in full.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Linked to Blood Clots, EMA Official Says

The Chair of the European Medicines Agency’s vaccine evaluation team has said there is a connection between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, although the exact cause of the adverse reaction remains uncertain. This news comes as Britain’s medicines agency weighs up whether to restrict the AZ jab for younger people. The Independent has the story.

A senior official at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said he believes there is a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and extremely rare cases of blood clots reported in people who recently had the jab. 

In an interview with Italy’s Il Messaggero newspaper, Marco Cavaleri, Head of Vaccines Strategy at the EMA, said it was “clear there is a link with the vaccine” but there was still uncertainty about what exactly was causing such a reaction.

Mr Cavaleri said that among younger vaccinated people there was a higher than expected number of cases of cerebral thrombosis – blood clotting in the brain – compared with the general population.

He suggested that the EMA would make a statement on the situation later on Monday. The Independent contacted the EMA for comment.

The EMA has insisted as recently as last week that the “causal link with the vaccine is not proven” and continues to recommend people take the opportunity to get vaccinated when it is offered.

Last month, the agency said it “cannot rule out definitively” a link to a rare clotting disorder but that it is still “safe and effective” to use. In another statement, it said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks.

EMA is of the view that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects

Channel 4 News has reported that Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is considering issuing new advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine for younger people.

The UK [medicines] regulator, the MHRA, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are urgently scrutinising whether younger people – particularly women – could be at greater risk of getting a potentially fatal blood clot after the AstraZeneca jab than they are of dying from Covid. In either case, though, the risk is very small.

The Independent’s report is worth reading in full.

South Dakota – the Least Restrictive State in the Western World, Yet Covid Deaths Now Averaging One a Day

As I noted back in March, South Dakota may have taken the least restrictive approach to COVID-19 of anywhere in the Western world. Its conservative governor, Kristi Noem, has been a stalwart opponent of lockdowns: when the state’s epidemic burgeoned at the end of August, there were practically no restrictions in place. Despite this, case numbers fell rapidly after reaching a peak in mid November. And by late February, they were in the low triple digits.

How has it fared since then? Case numbers have remained low, averaging about 170 per day:

And deaths have continued to fall. The last seven days saw an average of just one death per day:

Although South Dakota has the eighth highest death rate among US states, its epidemic retreated without any government intervention. (And no new restrictions were introduced in March or the first week of April.)

What’s more, South Dakota has done better economically than most other states and Western countries. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, its GDP fell only 1.7% in 2020 – the seventh lowest among US states. (Britain’s GDP plunged nearly 10% last year.) In addition, South Dakota currently has the lowest unemployment rate out of all 50 states – at just 2.9%.

One might say, “You can’t equate GDP and unemployment with human life”, but that simply isn’t true. The money to pay for the NHS (and programs like Medicare and Medicaid in the US) comes from taxing economic activity: the less economic activity, the less money there is available. And that’s before you even factor in the social costs of unemployment and bankruptcy.

One should be cautious about extrapolating from South Dakota to countries like Britain, given the state’s low population density. However, the trajectory of its epidemic casts serious doubt on the models that led us into lockdown.

Aviation Bosses Criticise Government’s “Unfair” Testing Plans for Overseas Travel

Aviation bosses have criticised the Government’s “traffic light system” for resuming international travel, saying that the requirement for travellers to and from “green list” countries to be tested for Covid will price many people out of holidays abroad. The Mail has the story.

The new traffic light scheme will see countries rated green, amber or red using criteria including vaccination levels, case numbers and the prevalence of coronavirus variants.  

Travellers returning from countries rated “green” will not be required to self-isolate, although pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the testing requirement should be ditched because if countries have cases under control and have extensive vaccination programmes then “green is green”. 

He said paying for laboratory-based PCR tests would cost “way over and above what the cost is of an average easyJet fare” which would result in only opening up international travel “for people who can afford it”.

He said that would not be “fair” or “right” as he also questioned whether the approach was backed up by science.

His comments came after Mr Johnson said he is “hopeful” of resuming some non-essential foreign travel from May 17th but refused to give a firm commitment to the roadmap date.

Government regulations on testing for those travelling abroad has been widely criticised for adding so much to the cost of holidays. A Lockdown Sceptics reader recently highlighted the additional costs suffered by British travellers to France because of the requirement to have three PCR tests at a minimum of £120 each.

If you want to come back from France to the UK you have to provide a negative PCR test. That costs a very reasonable € 15… in France. 

But on your return to the UK, you have to undergo two more PCR tests, on day two and day five after you arrive. For some mysterious reason, the cheapest tests in the UK are £120(!) each from Boots (and ridiculous amounts more from other providers). Even the Boots “bargain basement” cost adds an outrageous £360 to the total cost of a trip to France, as, of course, you need a PCR test outward bound too!

Lloyds Pharmacy has since undercut Boots’ PCR test cost… by £1.

The Mail’s report is worth reading in full.

News Round Up