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Covid-19 myths busted by experts

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Myth buster: Ayo Oyinloye, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

People who come down with Covid-19 are more likely to suffer blood clots than people who have had the vaccine against the disease, Bermuda’s Chief Medical Officer said at the weekend.

Ayo Oyinloye added the risk of blood clots from some vaccines such as the Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson versions had been exaggerated.

Dr Oyinloye said: “We’ve heard a lot about some of the side effects with vaccines and I want to just major on the discussions around the risk of blood clots so that I can put a little bit of perspective on this.”

He explained that there had been four blood clot cases per million with Astra Zeneca vaccinations – a rate of just 0.00004 per cent.

But the blood clot rate for people who contracted Covid-19 was 165,000 in a million – 16.5 per cent.

Dr Oyinloye said smoking caused 1,763 cases per million people – 0.18 per cent.

He added that the birth control pill accounted for between 500 and 1200 cases of blood clots per million, a rate of 0.05 to 0.12 per cent.

Dr Oyinloye said: “The odds are in favour of getting the vaccine – that’s the reality of this.”

He added: “There is that risk of blood clots with the vaccine, but lets get a little bit of a sense of proportionality with this.”

Dr Oyinloye also dismissed fears that the speed of development of the vaccines meant they could pose a long-term risk.

He said the vaccine was developed at “breakneck” speed.

But he added: “However, this was a convergence of all scientific the knowledge and the funding to be able to do it.”

He highlighted that vaccination had been used for 200 years and there was a vast body of scientific knowledge on the process.

Dr Oyinloye said: “We have had two centuries … that’s 200 years of vaccine development.

“Throughout these 200 years of vaccine development, what we know is virtually all the side effects that you can see from a vaccine starts within the first six weeks.

“And that’s why none of these vaccines have been approved if they not been tested for at least two months.”

“That allows us to see the range of side effects you expect from any vaccine.

“Yes, it’s been developed very quickly, but none of the steps have been skipped and its been tested for long enough to know virtually all the side effects we expect to get from this vaccine.”

Dr Oyinloye was speaking at a “vaccine myth busters” panel discussion on Saturday that also featured Carika Weldon, a top biochemist and the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Ramon Arscott, an expert in epidemiology and a plastic surgeon and Dy-Juan DeRoza, an epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health.

He added that the question of liability for medical problems as a result of vaccination “was very valid and legitimate”.

He said vaccine manufacturers were “still liable for any product defect or any poor quality product that comes out from them”.

Dr Oyinloye added that the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, which donated tens of thousands of doses to Bermuda, was responsible for the safe transportation of vaccine to Bermuda and for anything that happened to it in transit.

He said the Bermuda Government bore responsibility for the safe movement, storage and administration of the shots.

He added: “If anything goes wrong in these three areas, the Government of Bermuda is responsible.”

Dr Oyinloye said: “We are also covered by vaccine protection that the UK Government offers. So if any harm results from the vaccines given to us, we are covered by their indemnity.”

But he emphasised: “To date we have not had any harm coming from the vaccination programme.”

Ms DeRoza said that, in 91 per cent of deaths related to Covid-19, there had been no doses of vaccine.

A total of 9 per cent of fatalities had two doses, but not both jabs and a two-week interval before they were found to be infected.

She added that there was a well-developed investigation committee of experts for anyone who thought they had suffered harm and cases could be referred to the Pan-American Health Organisation if required.

She said about 40 reports of reactions to the vaccine had been reported out of more than 50,000 injections.

Ms DeRoza added that 26 were not serious and 14 were ruled to be more severe.

She said an individual had needed Emergency Room treatment, four people had needed hospitalisation and nine were considered “other important medical events” which required treatment by a doctor.

Ms DeRoza said: “So we can see quite clearly most of them are not serious, such as pain, fatigue, fever, headaches, rash, but there are some that have been evaluated and are going through the process.”

Dr Weldon said messenger RNA vaccines, which contained water, salts, sugar and fats, as well as mRNA, worked by instructing the body to trigger its defences and did not contain the coronavirus or any element of it.

She tackled a question from a member of the public about whether the vaccine could affect people’s DNA.

She said: “I am happy to say that it cannot. Every molecule in the cell has its own role and mRNA has very much limitations on what it can and cannot do.”

Dr Weldon emphasised: “The mRNA can do nothing, not a thing, to DNA. It goes out, does its job by delivering the message and that’s it.”

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Published April 26, 2021 at 9:58 am (Updated April 26, 2021 at 10:02 am)

Covid-19 myths busted by experts

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