Published in El Pais, 7 Abril 2021.
Now with various vaccines on the market, millions of people are being vaccinated. It is not uncommon for there to be side effects that are expected to occur on a scale of less than 0.1%. But what do we do if someone dies after being vaccinated? Bad luck? Or is it caused by the vaccine? In recent weeks, several governments have decided to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine due to caused blood clots. In the UK, 30 people out of 18 million people have these clots and 7 have died. The result is unfortunate, but is it a reason to stop vaccination against a disease that is causing deaths every day? Officially, they detained using the vaccine until further investigation into what really happened and then decide whether or not to continue with this vaccine. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of people who do not receive the vaccine and are at high risk of dying.
But let’s see from another perspective. 18 million people have been vaccinated. Of these, perhaps 10% were going to be infected, which is 1.8 million and of those infected, 0.5% would have died, which would be around 9000 people. Thus, is getting the vaccine a good deal? You may think that the writer overestimated the number of people who were going to be infected. Well, we change it to 0.1%, really and absolutely a low number. We would still have reached 90 deaths caused by COVID-19. Well, people can go for another vaccine, but vaccines are now in short supply as everyone needs them, plus the distribution system was not ready to speed up this process.
In other words, if everyone in Bolivia would get vaccinated with AstraZeneca, they would be even more likely to die in a traffic accident in that same week than to die from the AstraZeneca vaccination.
I agree that we have to monitor the vaccination to make it as safe as possible. But we have to do it on a scientific basis. Stopping vaccination just to avoid panic in the public is not a good reason to justify putting more people who need to be vaccinated at risk.