On Saturday 5 June 2021 a new controversy broke out in the Region, on vaccinations with AstraZeneca aglu under 55, following a letter signed by a group of volunteer vaccinating doctors and published by the regional councilor Ferruccio Sansa, who announced a question on the subject. The group from Cambiamo! with an official note.
Text of the letter: “AstraZeneca is not a vaccine for young people”
“The vaccination campaign continues at full speed but, contrary to what was expected, the AstraZeneca vaccine that Europe had aimed at did not take off, and many doses are lying unused in the refrigerators. The reasons are many, but certainly the” bad communication ” played an important role.
However, AZ has a weak point, absent in RNA vaccines: it can cause venous thrombosis associated with a decrease in platelets, which occurs 5-15 days after vaccination and can have a fatal outcome. This complication has been described in people aged 20 to 55, but by far the most affected are young women. Vaccine thrombosis, which is not caused by RNA vaccines, is very rare. Obviously, however, in a mass vaccination even a very rare but potentially lethal complication can cause a significant number of deaths, even in subjects who, by sex and age, such as young women, have a practically no risk of dying from Covid.
Against this background, the AstraZeneca vaccine was never approved by the US drug agency (FDA) and was eliminated from the vaccination program of various European countries, such as Austria, Norway and Denmark. Others have put restrictions on the use of AZ: For example, in Italy it was recommended the preferential use in people over the age of 60, in France in over 55. Also in England in March AstraZeneca was limited to over 30s , and the limitation has now been extended to over 40s. In addition, those who have already had AstraZeneca as their first dose get the second dose with an RNA vaccine. In Germany, citizens can choose their vaccine. Those who have taken AZ as their first dose can choose an RNA vaccine for the second.
Recently, however, the Italian government has decided to allow regions to organize vaccination open days with AstraZeneca open to all. Numerous regions have already joined, from Alto Adige, which since May 20 has opened vaccinations with AstraZeneca to all age groups from 18 years upwards, to Sardinia, where after the success of the open day for the over 40s they are other open days have been organized, one of which is reserved for over 18. And from Wednesday 26 Sicily will activate vaccination with AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson for 35,000 students who will take the final exams in June. Even in Liguria, from 24 May, citizens over 18 have been able to book for Astrazeneca or Johnson & Johnson. Seats quickly sold out sparking rave reviews in the press and promises that the experience will be repeated.
In reality, this initiative is hardly acceptable if, as always must be done in the case of drugs and vaccines, the risks are compared with the benefits. In subjects under 40 who do not have comorbidities, the risk of venous thrombosis with thrombocytopenia is sufficient to strongly advise against vaccination of AstraZeneca. In fact, in this age group, lethality due to Covid-19 in Italy is close to zero, and hospitalization is very rare. Therefore, the possibility of having platelet thrombosis following vaccination with AstraZeneca, although very rare, represents a higher risk than Covid-19 in healthy young people. On the other hand, in subjects over 40, the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from covid-19 clearly outweighs the risk of platelet thrombosis. It should also be considered that, if in the first studies the frequency of this complication was estimated at 1: 100,000, the analysis of the data provided by the British Medicines Agency and Health Service suggests a higher incidence of the complication and deaths caused by it.
As volunteer vaccinating doctors we are against the AstraZeneca Open Days, because the administration of this vaccine to subjects under 40 years of age, especially females, could involve more risks than benefits, although rarely causing potentially fatal complications. It seems to us that the choice of the government and regulatory agencies to advise against AstraZeneca under sixty and then let 18-year-olds administer it is disconcerting. If the choice to vaccinate over 60s with AstraZeneca was rightly based on data demonstrating a negligible risk of thrombocytopenic thrombosis in this age group, what is the basis for choosing young people who are more susceptible to this complication with AstraZeneca ? Furthermore, we strongly disapprove of the type of campaign undertaken by the governmental bodies of the regions, because it does not correctly warn young people of risks, however low they may be, and takes advantage of their legitimate desire to resume a “normal” life, and have a pass that allows them to move for work or study, or to go on vacation avoiding the expense of molecular swabs in and out of various countries, perhaps to use the doses of AZ stored in refrigerators because they are rejected by the over 60s, who would run negligible risks. Finally, we are baffled because, in our experience, vaccinating doctors have not been given indications to correctly explain the possible risk to young vaccinated people.
It is news these days that General Figliuolo intends to “liberalize” vaccinations by dropping the age constraint. Late decision (the Open days were full of reservations) but very valid: it would be a matter of waiting a short time and young people could have access to other vaccines. The central government, however, should block the next Open days which risk attracting other young people.
The fight against the virus cannot be separated from transparency: regulatory bodies and doctors must provide complete, understandable and truthful information if we want to overcome the pandemic in a short time, strengthen trust in the institutions and avoid unnecessary risks among our young people “.
Group of Volunteer Vaccinators-Genoa Doctors: Anna Rubartelli, Nicola Acquarone, Gabriela Arrigoni, Marcello Bagnasco, Daniela Bertagna, Gabriella Bruzzone, Chicco Bonalumi, Leo Chessa, Maria Antonietta Damerio; Enrico Haupt, Antonio Manti, Paola Minale; Federico Oggiano; Orietta Ortino, Renzo Poggio, Mariateresa Re, Vittoria Repetto, Guido Rodriguez, Adele Rossi, Angela Parodi, Daniela Salmeri, Carlo Venzano, Anna Vignoli, Susanna Voltolini.
The replica of Cambiamo!
The regional councilors of the Cambiano group replied: “We are amazed and at the same time embittered to read what was reported by the councilor Ferruccio Sansa, who copied and pasted a letter, not even recent, of some volunteer vaccination doctors on the administration with AstraZeneca to the under 60s. “.
“We are embittered because with that gesture he is once again disqualifying the work of the Ligurian healthcare system which is grappling with a gigantic effort and is obtaining some of the best results in Italy – the orange councilors reiterate – And we are amazed because the explanation to Sansa is soon date: the decision to administer AstraZeneca to under 60s was taken by Aifa, the Italian Medicines Agency, and the Liguria Region has adapted by offering this possibility only and exclusively on a voluntary basis. Furthermore, during the booking phase, the characteristics of the vaccine chosen are disclosed several times and no open day has been organized with files outside the clinics as has happened elsewhere, but a certain quantity of doses has been made available in a parallel line. We also want to remind you that in several other countries, including England, AstraZeneca has been administered to a large part of the population with comforting results. We really do not understand, therefore, the reason for this action of the councilor which risks confusing the ideas of the citizens ».