, 03.17.2021 04:49 AM

My latest: not dead yet

I got the AZ shot.

I haven’t died of a blood clot yet. But let’s see if I make it to the end of the column, shall we? (Justin Trudeau’s possibly hoping that I don’t.)

The AstraZenica vaccine hoopla or hysteria – take your pick – has been raging for days. It has now reached the point where approximately ten per cent of Quebeckers are reportedly refusing to get the vaccine, when they learn who manufactured it.

The AZ angst started a few days ago, and is entirely related to a batch that was delivered only to Europe. A sixty-year-old Danish woman received the vaccine, and died a few days later.

The poor woman had “highly unusual” symptoms after getting the vaccine, including a lower number of blood platelets and some clotting in her small and large blood vessels.

The Danish Medicines Agency – which few outside of Denmark had ever heard of before, but is now apparently regarded as more influential than the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and Dr. Anthony Fauci all put together – suspended use of the AstraZenica vaccine for 14 days.

A bunch of European Union countries followed suit – including the three biggest EU nations, Italy, Germany and France. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was called in to investigate the AZ apoplexy. Their conclusion: out of more than three million Europeans who had received the AstraZenica dose, 22 had gotten some blood clotting.

Twenty-two. Some.

Oh, and this: the EMA helpfully noted that people develop blood clots all over Europe, all the time. There was “no indication” the AZ batch caused anyone to get sick or die, their spokesperson said, adding: “We are still firmly convinced that the benefits of the AstraZenica vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risk of these side effects.”

But did that deter the conspiracy theorists? Not on your life. Why listen to an actual expert, when you can consult one of the many Twitter-based super-duper epidemiological geniuses, the ones who live in Mom’s basement, drink fizzy pop for breakfast, and reek of kitty litter and loneliness?

After more than a year of the pandemic, you’d think we’d all learn to be wary of disinformation and misinformation, about everything from masks to smooth surfaces to vaccines. But, no. We never learn.

Given that I was about to get AstraZenica’s concoction – a curse or a cure, take your pick – injected into my arm, I went looking for an actual expert. Call me crazy, but I sometimes think scientists know a thing or two about, well, science.

I found Dr. Mark Toshner, a pulmonary vascular physician, and a professor at a little school called “Cambridge University.” (You may have heard of it, basement-dwellers.) The good doctor decided to take on the conspiracy whack-jobs on their own turf – Twitter. He won, and then some.

Casting an experienced eye over the past few days, Dr. Toshner called all of it “one to two weeks of loud noises.” Hauling out his crystal ball, Dr. Toshner made some predictions.

“Scientists will do [the] math and ‘risk’ may increase from 0.0002 per cent for a rare thrombotic event to, at the very highest, 0.002 per cent – or, more realistically, 0.0004 per cent,” he tweeted.

This writer isn’t very good at math, but that kind of sounds like the coronavirus may be a much bigger risk. The doctor went on.

“Clusters of rare things happen. Remember: there are literally hundreds of rare things that can happen, and they happen stochastically (at random). When we look for patterns, we see patterns (observer bias).”

The people making the call about suspending AstraZenica will learn the truth – that the vaccine is safe – but precious time will be lost. “Two to four weeks,” wrote Dr. Toshner. There will be more deaths and sickness that could have prevented, as a result. “Vaccines will go to waste, rollout will slow further,” he tweets.

“We need to break this cycle,” Dr. Toshner tweets, likely (understandably) angry. “We need better message discipline and communication. We are so distracted by [the AZ controversy] we haven’t even started to put serious energy into developing countries with no vaccines. This is where the real battle lies.”

I was convinced. I went to my local Shopper’s Drug Mart and got the shot from a nice lady. She, and the AstraZenica vaccine, didn’t kill me.

Sorry, Prime Minister. Maybe next time.

[Kinsella was Chief of Staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health.]

12 Comments

  1. Martin says:

    I am on the AZ list but need to be prepared to drive 82km with one hour’s notice since I live in fly over country. Long term plan for me continues to be herd immunity. Oh, and we have dropped to 65th in the world on vaccines delivered if anyone cares. A new low.

  2. Bill Malcolm says:

    Bloody continentals getting all excited, what?

    But the real story is that four under age 50 Norwegian health care workers given the AZ vaccine developed blood clots, and two died.

    It was not a random group out of 17 million vaccinated people. Google is your friend, not an MA Cantab on Tweeter, or Fauci who knows bugger all about AZ vaccine because it’s not yet approved in God’s own USA.

    That Norwegian “problem” is what got the Danish version of our NACI concerned. They are NOT nobody. Denmark is a more developed country than Canada is and likely has far more competent epedemiological medicos. Ever been there? Modern. And the best, lowest rate of Covid-19 infection in Europe. They sure as sh!t got Canada beat! Denmark 397 deaths per million, Canada 608, USA 1679 (John Hopkins data as of today).

    The AZ vaccine you got was from India, which has by far the biggest vaccine-producing industry in the world, and where we get our flu shots from. They know what they’re up to. I’d happily get a shot of their vaccine myself.

    In Europe, the AZ vaccine made in Reading England hasn’t been sent to the continent, because the complete idiot Boris decided to hoard it and not share with “foreigners”, despite a treaty with the EU that included swapping doses of Pfizer made in Belgium with AZ from the UK. That was why the EU decided on export controls for Pfizer vaccine that caught Canada out in the supply chain this winter. Not Justin, but hey, why waste an opportunity for a fact-free attack?

    The other Belgian factory making vaccines besides Pfizer, makes Ta da! AZ vaccine, and you might recall, if your attention span allowed same, it had to stop production over sanitary fears for a couple of weeks while they swabbed the place down. What’s the bet that the early possibly contaminated AZ vaccine was what the Norwegian health workers got? It wasn’t AZ from the Italian factory because Italy has been hoarding that and not exporting to Australia as their contract demanded.

    • Pedant says:

      Imagine calling a leader a “complete idiot” for putting the interests and health of his own people first.

      I guess in Canada we’ve become so accustomed over the past 6 years to a government that puts Canadians last that anything remotely patriotic seems stupid.

  3. ablanas says:

    I have a couple of high school friends who on Sunday proudly declared they will not be taking up Ontario’s present offer of the AZ vaccine in their age cohort because they prefer to wait a couple of months for the “better ones” to be offered. One of them also commented they will wait for the J&J vaccine because as a single-dose it’s “less inconvenient”. Wow. Meanwhile the new variants are rapidly spreading and the fundamental gain of all these vaccines is to prevent serious illness and death — a goal all present vaccines achieve. I gratefully took the AZ shot on Friday.

    • Warren says:

      It’s not like picking out an ice cream flavour. Take when you can get, as soon as you can get it.

      • dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack says:

        BINGO!

        -BINGO to Warren:)

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        You’ve made me feel stupid and shortsighted. I genuinely thank you for that. In short, when the call comes, eventually, I’ll take what’s given. One of my friends got the call today and he’s happier than a pig in shit to get a confirmed appointment not too far down the road.

  4. Steve T says:

    Thanks very much for posting this, Warren. My parents have started to become concerned about the AZ vaccine – to the point where they haven’t booked an appointment even though they are eligible (it’s only down to 75 years old here in Manitoba).
    I have forwarded your article to them, noting they should listen to experts and not Twitter rumors.

  5. Martin says:

    67th this morning.

  6. Pipes says:

    Glad to know you are still with us. The world is a better place with you in it and lets keep it that way.

  7. Joe says:

    I got my AZ shot in Windsor (Tecumseh, Ont) last Friday as well
    Shoppers Drug – Well organized and efficient
    No side effects at all other than Bill Gates keeps texting me….

  8. Phil in London says:

    Warren, Warren, Warren, trusting experts over Twitter? How will we ever get away from that evil democratic cabal of baby eaters?

    Please don’t disparage those fine young men living at home digesting my instructions to MAGA. I need everyone of them to stand tall and encourage those excellent members of the Proud Boys who are fighting fake news every day on my behalf.

    I am sorry you are so worried about the Chinese virus but
    If you keep trusting experts you’ll soon see a Biden presidency and we won’t be able all to do anything to save the world but invade the capital to dispute the electoral college vote. – Donald (Nero) Trump

    On a completely different note good luck with the AZ shot. I just hope there is enough science influence over politics to see second doses of all come along much closer to the scientifically recommend spacing.

    You should take some comfort after all our dear leader once said to Bill Nye he loved science because it was so sciency – Phil

    P.S. science is for people who listen to fake news
    P.S.S. I won just ask me

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