AstraZeneca vaccine pause better than 'turning a blind eye and bulldozing ahead' - virologist

AstraZeneca vaccine pause better than 'turning a blind eye and bulldozing ahead' - virologist

A vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. File picture

Virologist Dr Gerald Barry has said that the decision to pause use of the AstraZeneca vaccine should reassure the public and it was better than “turning a blind eye and bulldozing ahead.” 

While the pause was “disappointing and concerning” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, “it fills me with confidence in the system, that safety is paramount.” 

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) yesterday recommended that the administration of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine be temporarily suspended.

However, Dr Barry acknowledged that there was no doubt that the pause would lead to more “vaccine hesitancy” which was a natural reaction.

His own father had expressed concern and reluctance to take the vaccine, but Dr Barry had explained to him that the Irish approach “to pause for a second to have a look” was the right thing to do.

Dr Barry said that events in Norway were very likely “unfortunate to have come together at a bad time.” 

Data from the UK about AstraZeneca was positive with no dramatic events as experienced in Norway, he said.

The UK experience of AstraZeneca gave him great confidence, but he did not see any harm in pausing and confirming the safety of the vaccine. 

The risk to health from Covid-19 was much more serious than any risk from vaccines, he said.

“Trust in science and health care workers,” he urged.

Earlier, the Health Minister told RTÉ that the 30,000 people due to receive the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab this week will have their vaccinations rescheduled in the next few weeks.

Stephen Donnelly said he hopes most of the people whose vaccines are being deferred will receive their first dose by the end of the month without affecting the rollout of vaccine to other people.

Mr Donnelly said he understood that people were naturally “disappointed” by the deferral of their appointments but that the NIAC and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) had acted “decisively and quickly” in response to new information late on Saturday night about the Norway cases.

- additional reporting from PA

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