Is it Safe? Vaccine Hubs

and mechanisms aren't everything

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A light post this week. It was a busy week at work, and I’ve spent 16 hours down at the vaccine hub this weekend. The atmosphere at the UK’s vaccines hubs is really something to experience. Looking back on my career in the NHS, before I left patients to work with students, there were many times I really enjoyed working in a great team of people. The best were in multidisciplinary teams. Working in the vaccine hubs is like this all the time. Even when it is super busy, it is a joy to work in them.

It feels like making a difference.

After a year of working remotely, getting back into the a situation where you meet new people, both the work colleagues and the public coming through the hub, is energising. If you want to see how great this country is, go and work in a vaccine hub and meet all the nice people coming in. It’s a great reminder how when people meet people they can see the common humanity in each other. Working in Birmingham you get to meet a diverse mix of people, and it feels like both the staff and the people visiting for a vaccine are all involved in this huge project. Which they are.

AstraZeneca and thrombosis

The British Society of Haematology’s President has drawn attention to the rare cases of thrombosis, associated with low platelets, that this newsletter has covered for the past few weeks, noting the importance of reporting any new suspected cases to the Yellow Card Scheme.

An expert team of our peers have recently been involved in diagnosing and managing a rare syndrome of thrombosis associated with low platelets which have been reported in a few cases. At the moment, any causal association with coronavirus vaccination has not been established. However, if you identify patients with this syndrome in proximity to coronavirus vaccination, it is very important that you complete the online yellow card - this will trigger a request from MHRA for further details.

And this issue has been covered in Science in an interesting article about the issue, although I think it is fair to point out that the case is not closed that the vaccine is causally linked to these events, even though a mechanism is being widely lauded as being found. A biologically plausible mechanism is part of the process of establishing causality, but it isn’t a slam dunk. The decision of the temporary halt of the vaccine by a number of countries was still a mistake in my view until further data was available, especially given the continued high level fo COVID-19 cases in many of these countries.

An ad hoc group is meeting at EMA on Monday to add to the existing EMA assessment, looking at the observed cases, possible risk factors, and potential mechanisms, with a possible update on the EMA position in early April. So the story is ongoing…

Leadership

A nice piece on Chris Whitty…

“He is just a decent bloke. Got a few calls wrong at the start, but otherwise was bang on with advice, is very smart, works hard and is just thoroughly decent to people in a high pressure environment.”


That’s all and stay safe.

Anthony

Don’t forget to report your suspected adverse effects from medicines and vaccines. In the UK, this means using the Yellow Card Scheme.