Would you get vaccinated with Janssen or AstraZeneca? Eight experts are clear on the answer

The Conversation




Many people have already received the first dose and do not know when they will receive the second. Others refuse to get any of these vaccines.

We have surveyed several of the leading specialists in epidemiology, immunology, vaccinology, virology and public health to ask them directly what they would do: would they get vaccinated with the ones from Janssen and AstraZeneca?

Margarita del Val.

“The net benefit of getting vaccinated is huge”

Virologist and immunologist at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center (CSIC-UAM)

I would not only get vaccinated, but I just got vaccinated with the AstraZeneca on April 13 and I am delighted. It is a very effective vaccine, and it is recommended for my age, because the most powerful vaccines are reserved for my parents’ generation, whose risk if they become infected is about 10 times greater than mine. It is a very safe vaccine, because the risk of serious thrombi is minimal, less than 1 in 100,000 vaccinated. The symptoms that can anticipate them are known, which are included in its package insert, and it is enough to be attentive to them in the first 2 weeks (they recommend in days 4 to 12 after being vaccinated) and go to the doctor immediately.

For comparison, the risk of dying if I get infected is around 1 in 100 for my age, and I also have a certain risk of clotting problems if I get infected. The net benefit is very high, if we compare the numbers, so I have not hesitated at any time in receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine; On the contrary, I feel very fortunate, especially now that we know that we will all be infected, sooner or later, because this virus is no longer removed, and that it is not only up to us to protect ourselves, but to everyone around us.

Salvador Peiro.

«I have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca and I had no doubt »

Researcher on Public Health and Pharmacoepidemiology at FISABIO

I would not vaccinate: I have vaccinated. I was called (by age group) to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca last week, amidst all the media buzz about its potential risks. And I had no doubt that the best option (for me, for my family, colleagues and friends, and for everyone) was to get vaccinated. Considering what we know so far about (all) the adverse effects of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines (and we know quite a bit because they have been administered to many millions of people), the risk-benefit ratio is remarkably favorable to vaccination. Much more favorable than we usually have with most medications.

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Carmen Álvarez Domínguez.

«I would vaccinate without hesitation« »

Biochemist and molecular biologist, immunologist, UNIR vaccine expert

I am 56 years old and I am not in any risk group, I am neither young nor even in the elderly group, but if I was offered any of the Janssen or AstraZeneca vaccines today, I would be vaccinated without hesitation for the following four reasons:

Both are based on the adenovirus platform that, although in humans it has only been used for the Ebola virus, in animals it is used successfully in dogs, such as the rabies vaccine, so there is much scientific evidence of its good capacity immunogenic and protective.

The possibility of developing thrombi due to these vaccines, if a direct or indirect association is found, would not currently be greater than 0.0004%, so the probability is very very low.

However, the possibility of developing severe or fatal COVID-19 in my age group, at least the closest to 60 years, is 9.5%, so the risk-benefit balance is clearly on the benefit side.

These vaccines as drugs have a high regulatory control, are safe, and their adverse effects, including thrombi, are at least 100 times lower than those induced by other drugs, such as antipsychotics, corticosteroids or contraceptives.

Ignacio Rosell.

“The benefits far outweigh the potential risks”

Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Valladolid

Sure I would get vaccinated with Janssen or AstraZeneca, although always with absolute respect for the decisions of the competent bodies and the agreements of the governments. With the information currently available, the benefits far outweigh the potential risks, especially in an incidence scenario that currently stands at around 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

In this epidemiological framework, the chances of ending up in an ICU or suffering a severe thrombus due to covid-19 are widely multiplied by those that could be attributable to vaccines, especially in a population over 40 years of age. And in addition to the individual assessment, it is important not to forget the contribution that each vaccinated person makes to reducing everyone’s risk.

Patricia López Suárez.

«Some adverse effects have been magnified, generating fear and mistrust« »

Immunologist, University of Oviedo.

After more than a year of pandemic, the implementation of the vaccination plan against covid-19 seems to show “the light at the end of the tunnel.” A tunnel that leads us towards the long-awaited “new normal”.

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In this time, the media have told us, as never before, all the details of related scientific studies and the progress of the longed-for vaccines was not going to be less. However, some of its adverse effects have been magnified, generating fear and mistrust in our society. This is the case with cases of blood clotting after receiving the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines, which are making headlines day after day.

In this scenario, should we stop giving ourselves these vaccines? Not really. Vaccination is safe, as the European Medicines Agency has already indicated, and the adverse effects described pose a much lower risk than that derived from suffering from covid-19 itself. The appearance of these thrombi is very rare (1 case in 175,000 immunized patients).

In fact, we usually consume drugs that we know are safe and have a higher risk of causing blood clots, such as corticosteroids or oral contraceptives (50-120 cases per 100,000 women per year, depending on their composition), among others.

It seems indisputable that the probability of contracting covid-19 in the near future and presenting complications that require hospital admission or a fatal outcome is greater than that of presenting thrombi after vaccination. Therefore, getting vaccinated is our best option at this time, and our only weapon to stop the evolution of the pandemic since it reduces the probability of contagion.

Esther Lazarus.

“Every day we run much higher risks than vaccines”

Scientific Researcher specialized in virus evolution, Astrobiology Center (INTA-CSIC)

At 57 years old, it is clear to me: I will get vaccinated as soon as possible, which means that I will accept the vaccine they offer me. Despite the bad press that these vaccines are getting due to their possible relationship with some serious cases of thrombi, I think I would not hesitate for a moment to use them, since the probability of this complication arising is extremely low.

In the case of the Janssen vaccine, with the data that exist so far, it does not reach even one case per million vaccinated, while in the AstraZeneca the value increases to about five cases per million.

In our life we ​​continually carry out activities that carry much higher risks than those. But we do not perceive them as such because they are everyday actions, and balancing the risk / benefit of each of them would simply prevent us from living. We would not take the car, we would hardly leave the house and many drugs would have to be recalled.

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One argument for not using these vaccines is that if we have other options with less adverse effects (RNA-based vaccines), why not just use those? The answer is easy: because we do not have enough doses to immunize the population quickly enough to stop the pandemic. In addition, the lower price and ease of storage make AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines a very valuable resource to immunize in the poorest countries.

And if we reject them in rich countries, what arguments are we going to use to make them use them in other more disadvantaged countries? In addition to the ethical issue that this raises, we must also consider that if we allow the virus to continue to circulate in other countries, we will be giving it opportunities to mutate and generate variants that may decrease the effectiveness of vaccines or cause more damage.

In my opinion, the solution is to identify which groups are most at risk of suffering an episode of thrombi so as not to use these vaccines in them. It will also be very useful to establish a clear protocol of action in the event that these complications do occur. In this sense, the similarity between some cases of heparin-induced thrombi and those apparently caused by these vaccines can be of great help.

José Gómez Rial.

“I am guided by scientific organisms”

Medical specialist of Immunology at the University Hospital Complex of Santiago de Compostela

Of course I would get vaccinated with the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccine. I would be vaccinated with the first vaccine that European regulatory agencies have approved for safety and efficacy and I find myself in the right group of the population. As a scientist I am guided by scientific organisms, I am not guided by the media noise that comes and goes with each vaccine at a time of continuous infoxication that we are living. Both vaccines have shown a more than enough percentage of safety and effectiveness for you to trust them fully.

Albert Bosch.

“The risk is negligible”

President of the Spanish Society of Virology and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Barcelona

As it cannot be otherwise, I am waiting to receive whatever vaccine is, the one that corresponds to me. This naturally includes the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines. As has been repeated ad nauseam, the risk of thrombosis is negligible compared to the risks associated with covid-19 itself.

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