AstraZeneca has been embroiled in controversy over its failure to deliver promised doses to the European Union, and over the jab's efficacy and safety profile [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

The university, which helped develop the embattled vaccine, said in a statement that there were “no safety concerns” in the trial, but acknowledged fears over a potential link to clots by saying that it was awaiting additional data from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before restarting the study.

 

“Parents and children should continue to attend all scheduled visits and can contact the trial sites if they have any questions,” it added.

It is the latest drama to hit AstraZeneca, which has been embroiled in controversy over its failure to deliver promised doses to the European Union, and over the jab’s efficacy and safety profile.

The MHRA is one of many bodies across the globe analysing real world data from the AstraZeneca rollout to see if there is a definitive link between the jab and a rare form of blood clot, after cases were initially reported in Norway and continental Europe.

The MHRA reported over the weekend that there had been 30 blood clotting cases, seven fatal, out of the 18 million doses administered in Britain. 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Tuesday it “has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing”.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides later said that the agency was expected to make its decision “late Wednesday”, adding that she was in “close contact” with the EMA.

 

The trial disruption is the latest blow to the vaccine, once hailed as a milestone in the fight against the pandemic, after several countries restricted its use in light of reports of medical issues after inoculations [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS]
Germany and France have both restricted use of the vaccine to older people over fears that younger recipients are potentially more at risk from clots. 

‘Benefits outweigh risks’

Britain and the vaccine’s developers have until now resisted any restrictions in its use, saying that there was no proof of any link.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at Britain’s University of Bristol, said that the benefits continued to outweigh the risks. 

“We need to know more about the people affected and we need to understand exactly how the illnesses came about,” he said. 

“If you are currently being offered a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, your chances of remaining alive and well will go up if you take the vaccine and will go down if you don’t,” he added.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday said there was no reason to change its assessment that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 outweigh any risks.

Spats with governments across Europe about production, supplies, possible side effects and the vaccine’s merits have dogged the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker for months. SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES/Al Jazeera

Greg Kelly, the right-wing host of Newsmax, says he smoked weed and ended up in Kenya. Naturally, people are laughing at how absurd that is. 

Marijuana is being legalised all across the US. With New York’s recently signed bill allowing for recreational use among adults, and criminal records for possession set to be expunged, 15 states and the District of Columbia now permit cannabis use. 

Generally, Republicans and other right-wing supporters tend to oppose legalising weed, whether it’s out of health concerns or stubbornness rooting from the ‘war on drugs’ mentality. However, if anything’s going to ward people off marijuana, it’s not the Newsmax anchor’s tale of being so high he woke up in Africa. 

Kelly tweeted: ‘SMOKING WEED (aka GRASS) is NOT a good idea. I’ve tried it (back in the day) and it was WORSE than anything that happened to HUNTER BIDEN. I ‘toked up’ with some buddies in Kentucky and woke up 4 days later in Nairobi, Kenya. With no idea what happened. DON’T DO DRUGS.’

Unless you’re completely oblivious to the effects of drugs, going on an out-of-body, blackout crusade to another country nearly 8,000 miles away and also suffering short-term amnesia is not something associated with cannabis. Really, it’s not the end-result of any drug, though there are others that would make more sense in this (blatant fallacy of a) scenario, like Rohypnol or even alcohol. 

Considering Newsmax has given airtime to nonsense merchants like Marjorie Taylor Greene in the past, the host’s claims should be taken with a pinch of salt. One Twitter user even wrote: ‘I read like 20 of this guy’s tweets and still not sure it’s a real guy.’ Another wrote: ‘Greg Kelly is performance art. I am convinced of it.’

He also previously tried to shift the blame of the US Capitol riots to ANTIFA, and used his platform to complain about McDonald’s refusing to serving him a McFish – because no such item has ever existed and he tried to order it during breakfast hours. 

The mockery has stretched far and wide. Former congresswoman Katie Hill tweeted: ‘Cheers to all who have ‘toked up’ in Kentucky and ended up in Kenya because that’s definitely a thing that happens when you smoke weed.’

Speculating there may have been other factors in Kelly’s trip to Kenya, another user joked: ‘Greg I don’t know how to break it to you but those weren’t ‘buddies’ and that wasn’t ‘weed’… it may have been ‘kidnappers’ and ‘a lead pipe’.’ Unilad

British citizens will be allowed to visit and holiday in countries with high Covid-19 vaccination rates as the country’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil a traffic light system. The system will see destinations rated as red, amber and green.

Government sources who spoke to The Daily Mail said the British Covid-19 Traffic Light System will categorise countries according to the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, rate of infection, Covid-19 variants and a country’s accessibility to reliable data and genomic sequencing. Using this criterion could mean that British tourists cannot visit countries such as France and Italy. 

Under the yet to be announced system, citizens returning from green category countries will not need to isolate, although they will need to have Covid-19 tests before and after they fly.  Those coming from countries in the red category would have to isolate in a hotel for ten days, while those that would have holidayed in amber category countries will isolate at home.

Daily Mail reports that the system is likely to come into effect on 17 May 2021. Health Minister Edward Argar told BBC Breakfast:

 We are seeing many of our friends in Europe seeing an increase in infections. That is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful that as we see an increase across the world in infections that we get this right because one of the things we don’t want to see – and just as the vaccination programme is working so well – is getting new variants or risking new variants getting imported into this country. But, although tempting as it is, I’m not going to pre-empt which countries might be in which categories or what the Prime Minister might say. PIndula

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