Suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in certain countries: an “unjustified and excessive application of the precautionary principle”, judges a pharmacologist

The AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 has been suspended in Denmark, Norway and Iceland over fears of blood clots. The European Medicines Agency has indicated that 30 cases of thrombosis have been identified in five million people vaccinated.

France continues to use it for the moment, said Olivier Véran. “It has not been shown that there is a relationship with the vaccine”, explains on franceinfo Jean-Louis Montastruc, doctor, professor of medical pharmacology at the Toulouse University Hospital and member of the Academy of Medicine.

franceinfo: Do ​​you understand France’s decision not to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Louis Montastruc: I fully agree with the Minister of Health on his decision. There are 30 cases and it has not been shown to be related to the vaccine. It is probably a fortuitous association but the studies, the analyzes, which have been made do not show any relation. In France, there is a case and it is absolutely not related to the vaccine, there is no demonstration that it can be linked to the vaccine. Every day, in France and around the world, there are thousands of thromboses that occur independently of vaccines. So there is no reason to think that there can be this type of association.

How do you explain the decision taken by these countries?

I believe this is an unwarranted and excessive application of the precautionary principle. For me, it is an administrative decision and it is not a medical decision because, as the Minister said, the benefit-risk balance of vaccines is very favorable.

Every day there are 300 deaths with the Covid-19 which we talk about very little and there we will be moved by thrombotic accidents which have not killed anyone in France.

Louis Montastruc

to franceinfo

The vaccine saves lives and we know how to treat small side effects, on the other hand, we do not know how to treat Covid.

How are side effects of a vaccine measured ?

There is a whole system organized by pharmacovigilance. There are 31 pharmacovigilance centers in France which are on the lookout, which note the undesirable effects which are declared to them, which will often seek them in the hospitals, the clinics, near the centers of vaccination and the analyzes. These are pharmacological, medical and pharmaceutical analyzes. They do the synthesis and every week we have a meeting to say what is related to the vaccine and what is not. For the observation in France we concluded that there is no demonstrated association. We will feed the information back to Europe, to patients and to doctors.

Are you worried that this decision will distract people from immunization?

I think this is a very bad decision. It is absolutely necessary to continue to be vaccinated, it is the only way out of this pandemic. You must continue to be vaccinated including with the AstraZeneca vaccine which is a safe product to date.

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