Risk, reward and the AstraZeneca vaccine – podcast

The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation said this week that people aged 18 to 29 who are not at high risk of Covid should have the option of an alternative jab to the AstraZeneca vaccine if one is available in their area. It follows the accumulation of evidence linking the jab to rare blood clots, although no definitive causation has yet been established. The move has sparked fears of a loss of confidence in the widely used AstraZeneca vaccine, at a point when the UK is emerging from lockdown.

The Observer’s science editor, Robin McKie, tells Anushka Asthana that the risks of blood clots are still incredibly low: the current evidence puts the risk at about one in every 250,000 shots. But given there are other vaccines to offer, he says this caution makes sense.

More than 30 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK, and a study by Imperial College researchers suggests that the link between Covid-19 and deaths is being broken. But other studies point to a more severe third wave of the virus should vaccination rates decline.

A medical worker prepares to give a patient a shot of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Photograph: Matthias Schrader/AP

Photograph: Matthias Schräder/AP

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